Curator John Lind of the Detroit Arsenal Museum pulled off a feat this past weekend that would have made Eisenhower proud:  He deployed a pair of landing crafts to liberate a Nazi controlled beachhead and lost only a handful of men, all of whom stood up afterwards and dusted themselves off.

The Normandy-like beach battle took place at Veterans Memorial Park several times over the July 24th weekend, each time with equally spectacular results.  Actors in period costumes portraying German, American and British soldiers performed under the direction of Paul Palazzolo and drew enthusiastic crowds of World War II buffs of all ages.

The event, the 2nd annual Veterans Weekend, outgrew its original home at the VFW Bruce Post.  According to Palazzolo, last year’s reenactment and military memorabilia show proved so popular that the venue needed to be expanded.  “Veterans Memorial Park is perfect,” he claims.

In addition to honoring veterans, the event raised funds for the park’s war memorial on Jefferson at Masonic, which, says Parks and Recreation Director Greg Esler, is in need of some refurbishing and needs to be relocated to a more central point in the park.  The memorial will also be expanded to include the names of many St. Clair veterans who were not commemorated on the original monument.  Esler points out, “Currently, there are 59 names on the monument and each is listed under a different battle, including World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.  We realized, through voiced concerns, that we had a number of deserving names that needed to be added.”

The weekend included a military vehicle rally, a display of historic vehicles, a live U.S. Coast Guard air/water rescue demonstration, helicopter rides, World War II era music,= as well as a food and beverage court. 

The highlight, however, was the beach battle De-Day re-creation. Says C.J. Lark, 14, of West Bloomfield, “The blanks they used sounded real, the whole event made me think that I was actually part of D-Day.”

According to John Lind, Living history recreations are an important part of the Arsenal of Democracy’s mission, but that there is more.  “We want to preserve military items for future generations, to honor all those who have served in the defense of our country, and to educate the youth and all people about the sacrifices of an entire generation that we owe so much to, thus keeping alive the life and times of the greatest generation.”
As a remarkable segment in Detroit: Our Greatest Generation, we hope that the recreation will demonstrate how successful Lind’s mission appears to be.



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