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‘A window into the past:’ Presentation depicts WWII history

Step back in time to the year 1944. World War II is raging on two fronts in the Pacific and Europe. The U.S. has been in the fight for nearly three years and there have been several Allied successes, but victory is still not certain.

On the homefront, enter PVT Joe Jones. Fresh out of basic training, he’s reporting to duty at Fort Benning as a replacement recruit for troops on the front lines.

The story unfolds at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center Saturday and Sunday, brought to life on World War II Street with skits from actors in period costumes.

The presentation runs steadily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a short break at 1:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

“Visitors have a chance to experience a day in the life of a new Soldier in October of 1944,” said Mr. Matthew Young, director of education and living history for the National Infantry Foundation.

“Each day will begin and end with a proper flag ceremony,” he said. “Living historians from the National Infantry Foundation along with select members from Kelly’s Zeroes re-enactment group and the 1st Division Alabama Living History organization will show how PVT Jones makes new friends, learns the rules and is issued the items he needs to be a Soldier during World War II.

Guests walk through the orderly room, supply room, barracks, headquarters and mess hall — authentic 1940s buildings originally intended only as temporary structures.

A chapel is also open to the public with original stained glass and the cupola from a shrine built by a Soldier in the 1920s.

In each building, there are period photographs that show how Soldiers lived and worked more than 60 years ago. Artifacts, such as the original beds, M1 rifles, uniforms and kitchen stove, fill the rooms.

“To truly immerse those attending, other re-enactors dressed in period uniforms will give the street a lived-in feeling by cleaning, drilling, performing PT and serving on guard duty,” Mr. Young said. “The whole thing is supposed to be a window into the past. This is an excellent program not only for kids but for anyone who wants a better idea of what it was like to be in the military during World War II.”

Shuttle service will be available from the main museum parking lot.