Inside the Country's Biggest WWII Reenactment: 'We're Here to Remember and Honor'

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The annual World War II Weekend in Reading, Pennsylvania, sees thousands of people descend on the city to check out the explosive event hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum.

Among the weekend's highlights are its reenactments, put on by a community of WWII buffs who strive to make the events as realistic as possible.

That includes hiring a flamethrower expert, Charlie Hobson. "It's a lot of work, it's hard work prepping for it, it's hard work getting all the equipment, it's hard work and we're on our feet all day long, but it's a good show," Hobson told

But it's not just about entertainment. Those who participate are quick to point out that really the weekend is a means of tribute. 

"We're here, really, to remember, honor, and serve our veterans in our own way," Maj. Eric Junger said.

Sometimes that means playing the "bad guy."

"The people who do German reenacting just love history," one attendee said. "I'm very sensitive what people think about people re-enacting German soldiers. ... We're really playing cops and robbers and someone's got to be the robber and someone's got to be the cop."

He added: "The Americans and the British need someone to fight, so we have an important role to play."

Just don't consider it a celebration of war. 

"Are we glorifying warfare here?" asked Hobson. "... I think the biggest mistake we could make was to glorify war. ... War is hell. And you want to avoid it at all costs."

That's why it's important to put on the reenactments, he added, saying it's key to acknowledge the past in order to move forward. 

"I think if more people knew how bad it was, there'd be a lot less wars," Hobson said.

But the weekend is also an appreciation of "the vet for what he did."

Junger echoed that sentiment, saying the first year they ever carried out the reenactments, veterans of the war became emotional after watching.

"They couldn't help but shake our hands, some of them had tears in their eyes because we had just captured their hearts," he said.

For more on the country's biggest WWII reenactment, check out the video above.


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