World War II - a time of struggle... of fear... of grief. Reenactors on both sides of the European conflict, American and German, took part in the battle held at the Little Log House Pioneer Village near Hastings, MN to help you become aware of the realities of the danger and the effort needed to survive.
They want to honor those who have taken part in the conflicts. And I was told that sometimes the Germans win a battle.
Some of the American reenactors are from the 115th Airborne and 117th Infantry Regiment. They include a majority who were never in the military. But they are history enthusiasts.
And like Don Nelson explains, he just got interested after he retired from teaching school. And he's having the "time of his life."
The German reenactors are members of the WWII Historical Reenactment Society. Scott Steben, the German Kommandant, explained they have no affiliation with any racist, fascist, white power, or religious or political organizations. They strive to portray the average soldier of an elite Waffen SS division as historically accurate as possible.
And the reenactors chuckle as they admit they liked the cool uniforms of the Germans! I heard the comment: "We are 30 year old guys who haven't grown up!"
The battle took place on a hillside as a US tank drew up. Soldiers hid behind barriers that were bales of hay. This caused one bystander to wonder what protection that would provide against bullets... but the "battle" went on.
For several minutes you watched as one side maneuvered to overtake the other. Finally the Americans took the hill and captured the Kommandant. Medics rushed to the fallen soldiers to see who could be helped... on both sides.
The crowd watched the battle end. The children were eagerly waiting to be allowed onto the field to pick up the empty shell casings left behind for them to collect.
But that's not the end of the story.
WWII was a time of struggle... of seeing the horror that humanity inflicts on each other.
Was there no hope?
As I was editing my video... I noticed a small segment of film that had been overlooked.
It was after the fighting was over and spectators were milling around on the battlefield... just talking to soldiers.
And in the segment I had overlooked, I noticed one small American boy trying to get the attention of the German Kommandant.
He waved again and again... but to no avail.
Then finally the German commander saw him...and turned and reached out to shake the young boy's hand.
And that simple greeting of friendship, as symbolic as it may be, may indicate that there is hope for our world.