Exciting World War II Weekend at Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, Reading, PA Every June
Nurse re-enactor at a WW II weekend
It's Always 1944
During the 3-day weekend commemorating World War II at the air museum at Reading, Pennsylvania's airport, it is always June of 1944. This celebration started as a rather small regional affair 25 years ago. Now it is a re-enactor's paradise bringing in guests and participants from all over the country.
More and More Re-enactors Participate
I remember the first one I attended (I'm a local.) It was organized with a few swing bands, a live radio re-enacting troupe, a few United States service re-enactors (including a modest field hospital), a few vendors and a few period airplanes. I think the focus was on the planes.
I remember that I was shocked that three young lads came to that early festival costumed in German Nazi uniforms. At the time, it seemed very daring to me - albeit I admitted to myself and to them that Nazis were part of the WW II story. However, the rest of the weekend at that time was extremely oriented to U.S. military.
This is no longer the case. In my mind, neither planes nor the 48-star-flagged U.S.A. are the focus (despite the museum focus on aircraft.) Instead, it is on the time travel into the past for ALL the groups.
The WW II week-end draws re-enactors of all the Allies and many of the Axis troops. There is a re-created French village full of citizens sipping wine at the cafe in which a battle is re-played several times. One sees kilted officers and many companies of historically authentic Nazis (still gives me the willies to see shiny black German cars with neat swastika flags at the corners. My mind automatically replays the God-awful sound of the Gestapo sirens.) And, last year our local newspaper made a big fuss over a guest who attended in a Japanese military uniform.
There is also a homefront display and, of course, constant old-time authentic radio broadcasts by the SOAP radio actors. This dedicated group puts in a tremendous effort to keep the live entertainment rolling for three days. By the way, everything they perform is from real scripts of the era. I wonder if there will be a draft board at some point or a conscientious objector re-enactor?
A Restored Corsair
Allright, there are some restored planes. As a local, we get to see and hear them buzzing overhead on the Thursday before the official opening. That's when everyone is setting up and the planes are arriving from all over the country. The sound of a 1940's propellor plane certainly takes me back in time. For a hefty price, one can take a ride in one of these beauties.
The WWII Veterans
Also, several American WW II vets who have books to hawk attend and sit in a shaded hangar to talk with guests. Additionally there are groups such as the John W. Brown Liberty ship folks ( this was a Merchant Marine ship - those guys get little credit for facing danger taking supplies to our forces all over the world) and American WWII Orphans Network, an organization devoted to preserving the memory of fallen parents never known by the infants they left behind.
Parking is tough, All else is great
The parking takes a while. Imagine a trip to Disney World with lots stretching forever and shuttle buses transporting guests to the actual event. Now replace the macadam lots with grassy fields and you have a picture of what parking is. Plan on 30 minutes to get from your car into the weekend. After that, all is rather smooth. Everything is well-oragnized and signs are everywhere. Caveat: plan to deal with the weather. Air conditioning is NOT part of the WW II atmosphere.
If you plan to go, bring lots of memory for your camera!
Wow - this really happened
- Star-Spangled Moment at WW II Weekend
Spontaneous "flash mob" reaction.
Text and photos copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan
Mid-Atlantic Air Museum's World War II Weekend
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