For some spectators, the annual World War II re-enactments in Oak Ridge are more than just entertainment.
Some fought in the war or had relatives who did.
Jonathan Tackett said the re-enactments during the Secret City Festival give him an idea of what his grandfather experienced when he fought in the U.S. Army in Europe.
“I’m standing here seeing the fruits of his labor,” the 14-year-old Clinton resident said. “He fought for his country.”
Saturday’s two re-enactments featured almost 200 people in a dozen World War II-era vehicles, said Keith Rutherford, battalion executive officer of the Five Oh First Group in Knoxville, the battle’s main unit host.
It’s one of the largest re-enactments in the South, and it has grown from 28 people and one Jeep when it started 10 years ago.
An estimated 5,000 to 7,000 turn out for the two mock battles, in which British and American forces fight and defeat German military personnel.
“It’s entertaining for the public,” Rutherford said.
Garfield Gilreath of Knoxville fought in the South Pacific during World War II, and he wasn’t able to talk about his experiences when he first returned.
His granddaughter is one of the re-enactors, and she urged him to attend this year.
“I thought they put on pretty good,” Gilreath said.
Besides the re-enactment, the Secret City Festival this past weekend also included concerts, areas for children and teenagers, Oak Ridge history exhibits, Manhattan Project site tours, regional exhibitors and vendors, arts and crafts, and a BMX bike exhibition.
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