A Veterans Day Surprise

I recently ran across a stash of old photos I had taken one day when Mother and I had gone shopping and accidentally stumbled across WWII underway in the heart of our downtown.  This was 2012 and we were in the downtown square in Waxahachie, Texas.

Waxahachie then had a population of just over 31,000, so it wasn’t a huge city but it hasn’t been entirely “rural” for a long time.  It’s also the county seat of Ellis County and so has a grand courthouse. It has a beautiful downtown square surrounding the courthouse and lots of little shops and restaurants.  We were just there to do a little Christmas shopping. Luckily, I almost always have my camera with me.

The first thing that was odd was running into two young men dressed as old-fashioned soldiers.

1
First There Were Two Soldiers

Then two more showed up.

When the medic shows up, you start paying attention.

2
Now There Are Four Soldiers

Then we started seeing military vehicles.

16
Motorcycles With Sidecars – How Cool Is That?

It wasn’t long before we caught up with where they were forming.

18
WWII Forming Into Downtown Waxahachie, TX

Finally, we ran across an advertisement that explained it all.  There was a “Black Market on the Square” from 9 to 3,  a Veteran’s Ceremony at the Civic Center from 10 to noon, a battle reenactment at the train station at 3, and a WWII-era film to be shown at the local feed store at 7.  (The local feed store, by the way, is a thing of true beauty).

15
Handbill for the Veterans Day Activities

It was an amazing event and I’ve never seen the like of it before or since.

14
Berlin 200Km

They had set up tents near the old railroad depot.

5
Encampment

And settled right in.

8
More Soldiers Relaxing

As we talked to reenactors, we found people representing the Australians, the Russians, the British, and, of course, our boys.  It turns out that the reenactment was the liberation of Nancy, France from the Germans.

11
Does He Look French To You?

The equipment was amazing. Where do they get all of this stuff?

20
Military Vehicles In Front Of The Courthouse

And you might be saying that they are just jeeps and trucks.  Okay, I’ll give you that. But what about this?

23
Big Gun On A Big Truck

This shot I just love.

24
Military Motorcycle

We never saw any Axis troops.  Or, if we did, we didn’t recognize them.  I think that there might be one in the photo below, I’m not sure.

I had hoped at the time that the idea of reenactments like this would catch on.  Spalding Gray had a theory that reenactments were like “war therapy”.  They help us remember without inflicting the pain of doing it again. They also build a bridge between the soldier in war and the civilian in peacetime and, in so doing, help us appreciate what we lost and honor our dead.

22
WWII Reenactors Gathered In Front of Waxahachie Courthouse

There are several videos on YouTube of the annual liberation of Nancy, France in Waxahachie, Texas.  I don’t know how we had never heard of it, but we hadn’t.  Several of the videos have some slideshows of some great still shots followed by live action.  I liked this one, a mock movie trailer, because it is actually kind of funny.

I googled WWII reenactments to see if I could catch one here in Virginia.  Just from a quick Google, it looks like OH and PA are the best states for lucking into a WWII reenactment.  Here are the sites that I found:

Has anyone heard of events like this in Virginia or North Carolina?  I’d love to hear more about them.

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Author: Beth Barton

I love to blog about where I live. We moved to Henry County, Virginia, in 2014 and love its natural beauty and the wealth of kayaking and hiking opportunities. Henry County is somewhat equidistant from Roanoke, VA, and Greensboro, NC. It is also a great place for craft beer lovers. Between the local community college and the TheatreWorks Players, we have live plays, musicals, and variety shows every month or two and that's not even counting what's being offered in Rocky Mount, Roanoke, and Greensboro. We shouldn't run out of things to do for a very long time.

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