Sunday, December 8, 2013
Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the day at Philadelphia's Fort Mifflin on the Delaware for their WWII Reenactment of the Battle of Schmidt. One hundred + guys dressed as Allied and German officers and soldiers took part, and hundreds of spectators came to watch and tour the exhibits. I'd never seen anything like it.
In the barracks adjacent to the reenactment field, I had a large display area for my books and research materials. I had the chance to talk with lots of people, both reenactors and spectators. The 1938 Sears-Roebuck catalog and the reproduction Nazi propaganda pamphlets generated the most interest and discussion.
The reenactors and I have something in common - we like to get 'into the skin' of another era, to think about and act out scenes which occurred before we were born. Perhaps by putting on that skin, we see our commonalities across years and cultures instead of our differences. We learn compassion for what others have gone through. Compassion alone can keep us from repeating the mistakes of history.
While I was watching the reenactment, a 9-year-old boy sat nearby, watching also. He was dressed from head to toe in the Hitler Youth uniform seen late in the war, when children his age were sent into battle to defend what was left of the Reich.
I hope and pray compassion wins before that ever happens again.