Two weeks ago, we skipped the May Games down in Chatham, Illinois and took off for Elkhart, Indiana for a WW2 reenactment with the Oz man as a belated 15th birthday prize. I have to admit, I was possibly just as excited as Oz (but probably not.) This is what he has wanted to do since he was a kid (yes, I know he’s a kid, try telling a 15 year old that. Good luck.)
Craig Morehead, who we had met once throwing a year and a half ago, along with his brand new wife, Kristin has been busy since those Bonfire Games rebuilding a Sherman Tank. Yes, a tank. Ya know, when Oz was 8 or 9, he stated that he wanted to have a tank in his front yard when he grows up. I thought it was inconceivable, now? Totally gonna happen. Anyways, back to Craig. I had asked him about it and how things work and he says, Bring Oz down, he’ll love it. We’ll get him on the tank, it’ll be a blast.
Uhhhhhh, OKAY!! I really don’t know if I’ve ever seen Oz so excited in life as when we were pulling up to the field on Friday afternoon. A Tiger tank had been built up on a frame of another T-34 (I think I’m getting this right, don’t judge me) and that’s pretty much the shit for Oz. There was also a Stug iii (again, I think) and Oz even got a ride on it. Cloud 9 folks, and this was Friday.
After touching down with Craig and Kristin, we headed about 20 minutes away to our hotel for some dinner and a much needed good nights sleep. We arrived to the field Saturday morning in total “wing it” mode. Craig was so incredibly busy that I’d just tell Oz, “Go and see if he needs help, if not, ask someone else if they need help.” And he did. All day. I’m so proud of Oscar and how helpful he was and even after being told that he couldn’t take part of the battle due to his uniform not being completely strict (reenactor’s take this seriously, as does Oz) which actually we had known ahead of time, he just soaked in being there. My favorite moment of the day? The afternoon battle (the German’s had won the morning battle, foking krauts) where we sat on the other side to cheer on the American’s when Craig and his tank crew barreled down the field and I noticed this:
That’s Oz on top of the tank. As tough as I am on crying mom’s, I have to admit, I teared up. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have very many childhood dreams come true as a child. It was actually kind of crappy childhood. But Oz? Thanks to a rogue tank crew…I knew he was out there living his dream and even now writing this, feel so amazingly thankful to Craig and Kristin for making this happen.
The entire day from start to finish was more amazing than we ever could have imagined. In fact, I’ve considered pulling out of Master’s World Championships in September so I can take Oz to Rockford, Illinois where one of the largest reenactments in the country will be taking place. It’s like Elkhart on steroids and I want to go as much as him (but probably not AS much.) I’m on the fence and probably won’t pull out of the Championships but in 2016 if it’s on the same weekend as the Rockford reenactment, I’m passing. I had so much fun and am in absolute awe of all of the gear and equipment and even a USO show with three lovely ladies with singing that rivals the Andrew Sisters.
We made some connections with a member of the 2nd Panzer Division because truth be told, Oz wants to fight with the Germans. Ya know, Tiger Tank. His favorite. So now he knows what needs to happen next year when he’s 16 and can apply to join their organization. So cool.
If only for a day, in as controlled setting as possible with tanks; foot soldiers; war planes, and an amazing display of pyrotechnics we can have a small understanding of what everyday was for our greatest generation then I say yes. Very much so, yes.
It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.