Anyone who stumbled upon Joanna Furnace last weekend without knowing what to expect would have thought they had stepped back in time.
Young men in the army’s olive drab or white sailor’s uniforms of the 1940s dancing with young women in dotted and floral-patterned house dresses or skirt-and-blouse combinations.
On July 20th and 21st, The Hay Creek Valley Historical Society held the fourth annual We Remember WWII weekend in honor of the heroes of the World War II generation. First scheduled in 2010, the event’s mission was to teach the public, and encourage the “respect, honor, and appreciation” for veterans of this, as well as other, generations.
In the Veteran’s Tent, WWII veterans were on hand to describe their actual wartime experiences spent in the service of the nation. Various service personnel were on hand, including men and women, many of whom are now in their 90s.
Those available to speak with included US Army SSgt. Robert Huber, European Theatre, Army Pfc. Lawrence Nagle, Pacific Theatre, SSgt. John Fleming, European Theatre, and Helen Reidel of the Army Nurse Corps, European Theatre.
The fitting celebration was also intermittently solemn, particularly as the American Legion conducted a retirement ceremony for old and worn American flags.
The ceremony, conducted at 6 p.m. Saturday, was led by Legionnaire Troy Trupe and included the pledge of allegiance, an inspection of the colors and a prayer by the chaplain before the call was given to destroy the flags in a respectful manner.
The ceremony also included an original poem read aloud by local veteran Harry Heeter, who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
Military and Home Front exhibits and demonstrations ranged from a living history encampment of the period and military vehicles, to a ceremonial roll call and a memorial luminary lighting ceremony. Also included were reenactments that showed and demonstrated military weapons of the period, a WWII-era fashion show, a screening of a short film about the aircraft and pilot of Spitfire 944 and veteran’s markets and exhibits.
However, all was not solemnity and seriousness – entertainment was not lacking, with a concert Saturday evening by Bob Troxell’s Big Big Jazz Band from Lancaster. The band played swing hits like “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Georgia On My Mind,” which featured the sultry vocals of Mary Ann Garrett and a bombastic sax solo by Jack LeClaire, and the ubiquitous “In the Mood.”
The event also featured the Strawbridge Sisters, a vocal trio reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters, and free swing dance lessons from Derek and Jenni.
Tri County Record Editor Matthew D’Ippolito contributed to this story.