Fort Mifflin hosted its Historic Soldiers Christmas Reenactment on December 4. This was my second time going to this particular event - the Fort and the Living Historians did an extraordinary job representing the respective eras.
A sign near the entrance:
World War II (1940s)
The first stop on the tour was the room where the German Army lined up American POW's:
The commanding officer gave documents to the incoming POW’s (the tourists, mainly children, were the POW’s).
Close-up of the bottles of booze:
We were then led to the POW barracks. The G.I. in charge told everyone to not complain and only report genuine concerns.
Inside the American POW's area:
A man held up a pack of cigarettes and asked if anybody wanted to trade. Another told us we could decorate the tree with any items we had on us.
A Christmas Tree with any scraps the POW's can find to decorate it:
Germans interrogating the American G.I.'s:
English Civil War (1640s-1650s)
Next, we walked into another room and into the seventeenth century. When I attended Historic Soldiers Christmas last year, it was strictly a program of American conflicts. This year, the Fort went a bit earlier and included a scene from the English Civil War. As we entered the room, we saw a soldier sitting down partaking in a Christmas fest. As it turns out, he was persuaded to dine – he initially went to the home of the hosts to arrest them for holding a banned Christmas observance. We heard a knock at the door and in walked the soldier’s commanding officer along with a few other troops. He looked around and asked why there was so much food and asserted that the plant arrangements were a sign of a Pagan Christmas celebration. The host said she only has them because they look nice. The officer called the troops to arrest the other soldier and the hosts and the lady asked if he would like to join them since there was plenty of food. The soldier paused and asked, “Are you a good cook?” … I thought that was hilarious. The officer decided to eat with them. It was really neat to see a representation from this era. I was pleasantly surprised to see it part of the itinerary.
American Civil War (1860s)
Inside the American Civil War room, we witnessed a family waiting for the arrival of a soldier who had been away for some time. When he returned home from the War, all of them sat down to watch members of the family perform Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Songs were sung afterward and food was offered to the guests as well:
World War II (1940s)
The next room depicted a scene involving Poles during World War II and their observance of Christmas. You will note the wafers with Christmas and Catholic designs. A Living Historian told us pieces of these are broken up and passed around the dinner table and even sent to family members in cards and envelopes! A fine assortment of handmade decorations were made and displayed as well.
Polish observance during the War - a common layout:
Afghanistan and Iraq (2000s-2010s)
An area was set up for people to make cards for the Troops currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq:
World War II (1940s)
A party for German SS Troops took place behind this door:
Korean War (1950s)
Some Reenactors did not show up while others were only able to volunteer for the first shift (10:00 to 4:00). This is why the Korean War camp is empty!!!
As stated previously, this was my second time going to the Historic Soldiers Christmas program and I am very much looking forward to the next one. It is one of my favorite events of the year! For the future, I would really like to see a conflict from the Middle Ages or Renaissance, other conflicts from American History that typically are not discussed and World War I represented, World War I especially since the Great War had a Christmas Eve Truce. That would be a very appropriate Reenactment given how incredible it was and how it embodied the essence of Christmas. I will try to make it happen for 2011!
I am a(n) researcher and archivist.
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