Market Garden commemorated with living history
September 27, 2013
- "When I was a young kid growing up, you were raised to love America. If you can instill some pride in the country's history -- be it military or another kind -- I think that's a positive thing. If you have pride in your country, you'll be a better citizen in the long run." - Charles Rose, re-enactor
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Since 1945, the people of Holland set aside a day in September for reflection and the celebration of their hard-earned freedom. They look back upon a time in 1944, when Allied forces pushed through the odds in an attempt to upend a German stronghold. They remember Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne military operation the world had ever known.
Though the attempt to infiltrate enemy lines was ultimately deemed a failure to the tune of more than 17,000 Allied soldiers lost, Holland was liberated nearly a year later. Since that time, the efforts made during the operation have not been forgotten. Much of this gratitude is shared with the 101st Airborne Division, one of two American airborne units charged with the monumental task.
For Dan Peterson, director of Fort Campbell's Don F. Pratt Museum, it is a busy time, as he has helped to organize a commemorative living history display for the past eight years.
"The Market Garden event is one of our traditional living history events that we have every year," said Peterson.
This Saturday, Peterson and staff will welcome James Burnett and other members of the 101st Living History Association to the museum and surrounding grounds, where they will signify the 69th anniversary of Market Garden with time-reflective military regalia and equipment, giving attendees a chance to experience an interactive, three-dimensional history lesson.
"We always have displays at the museum," said Peterson, "but this is a chance where they can actually hold the rifles they usually only see behind the glass."
Visitors will have the opportunity to visit indoor and outdoor displays of uniforms, vehicles, weaponry, radio and medical equipment and common ration supplies of the time period. To give a full scope to the event, there will be displays to represent both sides of the battle.
"We have re-enactors and living historians that will pick the German side so we can show both," said Peterson. "It's an interesting thing for Soldiers too, because it's kind of a 'know your enemy' sort of thing."
One such re-enactor is Charles Rose, who has been involved in historical re-enactments for nearly 14 years. Though he agrees the concept might seem odd to some, the choice to represent an opposing force stems from a certain respect he has for the German soldiers of World War II -- particularly those who fought on the eastern front.
"They were vastly outnumbered, but they still gave their all for their country, day after day," said Rose. "I was a professional Infantryman for 26 years, so I have an idea of what it takes to go out there and do what they did."
A self-proclaimed history enthusiast, Rose says his desire to partake in military history events comes from a hope that they will perpetuate a sense of pride and origin in today's Soldiers.
"Veterans need to be honored," he said. "I think one of the failings of the military today is they don't instill the pride in Soldiers about what their units accomplished in the past."
Keeping that history alive among young people is also important, which is why Peterson often invites local Boy Scout troops to living history events at Fort Campbell.
"Nowadays, the average kid isn't taught any of this," he said. "This is one of the only ways they can learn about it."
"When I was a young kid growing up, you were raised to love America," explained Rose. "If you can instill some pride in the country's history -- be it military or another kind -- I think that's a positive thing. If you have pride in your country, you'll be a better citizen in the long run."
Saturday's Market Garden living history event will run during the museum's hours of operation. For more information, call (270) 798-4986 or visit the museum's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Don-F-Pratt-Muesum-101st-Airborne-Division-Air-Assault/240897409274892.