Gun shot is heard. Screams echo down the streets as civilians run for cover. A half hour of intense conflict ensues. Suddenly the street is quiet for a half-second, and then the crowd erupts in cheers of joy as the hated Nazi flag falls from the courthouse windows, and the good ol’ Stars & Stripes are affixed in it’s place. What is this? Is this 1943? No, this is Linden, Tennessee, on September 26th of 2015, at Remembering WWII. Oh my dears I wish you could have been there! It was like stepping back in time to a small town in the 1940s! But, since some of you were not able to come, I will endeavor to give you a little taste today of what it was like.
There were old cars and vehicles galore scattered down the streets of Linden throughout the day. You could even catch a ride in a few vehicles, such as a vintage fire truck, a German SS motorcycle (pretty much the only “fun” thing about having German SS re-enactors around. 😉 ) as well as a DUKW! We girls didn’t get a chance to ride in any of these conveyances, but they were oh so lovely to watch.
Our dear friend Jessica C., her sisters, and friends rode around town on a vintage bicycle. Envy! And can you believe it, the Red Cross nurses uniform that Jessica is wearing is actual vintage. I really want to see how that thing is constructed some day, as the pinafore and “dress” are all one piece.
Looking back at the pictures of the day, there is such an odd sense of time traveling, two worlds colliding. Everything in a picture will look like it came straight out of the 1940s, but here and there are folks who clearly belong in the 21st century. The disparity between the two worlds is visible, and yet for one day they exist side by side, everyone traveling back in time in their own way to learn about our history. Whether it be through going all in and wearing the clothes and taking on the demeanor of the era, or merely observing as a spectator, everyone takes part in one way or another.
The community in Linden really outdid themselves this year in creating a holistically authentic experience. Even the shop-fronts were decorated in the manner of the 1940s! There were two stages this year, one at the encampment, and one at the Courthouse (German headquarters during the battle reenactments). Vets spoke on both of these stages, and we girls performed a few songs on the Courthouse Stage, which was right next to the Cafe de Normandie.
The cafe served the most delicious ice cream, soda, and beignets throughout the day. And they even had a quaint 1940s “kitchen” set-up inside the cafe. I saw several re-enactors relaxing there when they had a moment or two to spare.
See what I mean about the disparity of the two “worlds”? WWII soldiers on their SmartPhones. Not a sight you get to see every day, that’s for sure! 😀
We girls were once again privileged to sing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy with the Merchants of Cool Big Band. There is actually a funny occurrence that took place leading up to our performance with them. We had been given an estimate of when we would perform, so we girls thought we had a bit of time to mosey around town. We had been either listening to a speaker (Arthur Pais, Holocaust survivor), or watching the Two Old Beans booth throughout the morning, so we hadn’t had much time to explore. But, to make a long story short, we girls were not in the direct vicinity of the band when they called us up to perform. Charlotte and Jessica were in the middle of taking outfit photos, and I was up in our hotel room refreshing my lipstick!! The girls got up in front of the band on time, but there were a few moments where they thought the band would have to play another song before I made my appearance. Finally, when I nonchalantly walked out of the hotel door, without a clue of what was going on, I met Dad who grimly informed me that we girls were “on”. I zipped right on over to the green where we were to sing, and tried to act as though I wasn’t thoroughly mortified. Yes, that was quite a funny and interesting experience, to say the least. By the time we were all set to sing, the whole town knew who I was, since they had been calling my name over the loud speakers! Oh joy…
The volunteers and re-enactors this year were dressed in such a manner of authenticity which I haven’t had the privilege of witnessing before. Yes, people dressed up last year, but… I just don’t know… there was something about this year that really made me feel as though I was actually in the 1940s. By the end of the day I felt as though I was living in the era. I was a part of it. And coming out of that was like taking a step forward into the future once again. Such a surreal experience.
I so wish we girls had had more time to go and speak with all of the veterans who were there. We were so tied up between singing and other things, that we didn’t have time. I heard that there were approximately 25 to 30 WWII vets in attendance this year. Positively amazing!
One of the best parts about Remembering WWII was being able to be with all of the lovely people who we met last year, as well as meeting a few new faces. If you are one of those ladies who we had the privilege to meet over the weekend, it was so lovely meeting you!
Before the last battle reenactment there was a parade for the Veterans. Some of the Re-enactors walked in the parade carrying pictures of their relatives who had served during WWII, and there were girls passing out white carnations to be given to the veterans.
One of the most moving parts of the weekend for me, was actually one of the events that Charlotte didn’t capture on film. During the last U.S.O show on Saturday night, the Children’s Choir sang “America the Beautiful”. Prior to this, a young man got up on stage to introduce the song, and the words that he spoke moved me so much. To sum it up as best as I can from my feeble memory, he was thanking the Veterans for their service, and spoke of hoping that someday we would be able to speak to our children and grandchildren about them even though the veterans themselves would no longer be with us. I am not often moved to tears, dear readers, but this touched me so much. These precious men will not be around for very much longer. The veterans of WWII are dying at a rate of 500 per day in the U.S.A. The days of being able to show them our thanks, and hear their stories are fading fast. That is why I am so thankful for an event like Remembering WWII where we can remember, reenact, and thank those who came before us.
Will you come if there is a Remembering WWII next year?
Have you ever been to a 1940s/WWII event?
Brigid, the Middle Sister and Singer
P.S. In case you missed it, you can see what we wore in Jessica’s post here.