A FADING GENERATION

June 9, 2015 at 7:16 pm Leave a comment

For the last twelve years, or so, I have volunteered to work admissions for World War II weekend, held the first weekend of June by the Mid Atlantic Air Museum located in Reading, Pennsylvania. This year, it was held on June 5, 6 and 7th. I would like to share some of the special moments I experienced that weekend and which I will never forget.

First, I want to set the scene.

Picture this, fighters and bombers from both the navy and army air force, most more than 70 years old and representing the aircraft this country used to win the war. Among the bombers there was Fifi, the only flying B-29 in the world, along with a B-24, B-17 and multiple B-25s. I know to many, these designations are meaningless. But to students of history and those who share a passion for WWII aircraft, these titles have meaning. I won’t go on to name all the fighters, but all told, there were about 80 aircraft present. During the show, troop encampments were also present with more than 1000 reenactors and over 100 authentic military vehicles from that period. Represented were units from the American army, navy and marines. There were also British, German, Japanese, and French resistance reenactors. On occasion, I would also see uniforms I could not place, especially one lad dressing in brown with a huge black feather sprouting from his pith helmet.

What I enjoy most since I began volunteering has been meeting and talking to the veterans of that war. Ten years ago most walked in, now most are wheeled in by family members, but they still come. You can see the anticipation in their eyes as they enter the gates, a chance to relive their ‘glory days’. What I found special this year as I worked the gate were people who showed up with an extra ticket, and would say, “Give this to the next veteran you see.” This happened several times, and when the tickets were presented, usually to a wheelchair-bound former soldier, you could see the gratitude of someone’s generosity, and also, the appreciation for the recognition of their service.

For me, another special encounter was when I talked to a reenactor. I don’t know what unit he represented, though I think it was a marine outfit. He told me he had learned something of the hardships and sacrifices the men he now acted as endured. Here was a man, not even 40, telling me that knowledge brought tears to his eyes.

Honoring and remembering our history, the importance cannot be overrated.

Entry filed under: OBSERVATIONS & OPINIONS. Tags: , , , , , , , .

STRUGGLLING TO GET IT WRITE: AN EPIPHANY ELEVEN MINUTES BY PAULO COELHO

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