An annual Memorial Day weekend tradition in Elizabethtown is going to start with a bang this year.
Larry Vance, organizer of the World War II Re-enactment at the Elizabethtown Nature Park, has added a special exhibition firing of a World War II-era Tiger tank Friday night at dusk to kick off the annual event.
“It is going to be awesome,” he said. “It by itself is worth the trip.”
The tank, nicknamed The Last Tiger, is the only fully operational tank of its kind in existence, Vance said.
“I doubt anyone outside of a World War II vet or anyone into tanks would even know what the Tiger is,” he said. “You’re talking about the most feared weapon of World War II that the Germans had against us.”
The tank is operated by a five-man crew and will be fired several times Friday evening using powdered coffee creamer-gun powder rounds.
“They can put on a show almost by themselves,” he said, saying the Friday night show will be an opportunity to see the tank in action before the re-enactment starts Saturday. “With this weapon firing, you’re not only going to hear it, but the reason for us waiting for dusk, you’re going to see it.”
He expects the exhibition to last about 20 to 30 minutes.
Apart from the Tiger tank exhibition Friday, attendees can view the re-enactors’ camps and speak to participants, Vance said.
On Saturday, the re-enactment begins at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony followed by a weapons demonstration.
“These guys stay inspected all the time,” Vance said. “No live rounds can fit in any of these chambers.”
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At 11 a.m., the first battle will commence, with a second coming at 3 p.m.
At 1 p.m., the North Hardin JROTC Honor Guard will perform its POW/MIA ceremony at the park’s pavilion.
Apart from all the activity, Vance said guests will have opportunities to learn from experts and the re-enactors.
“It’s a time to interact with these re-enactors,” he said. “They can talk to anybody they want, they can go up and the guy who owns the Tiger tank will be here and telling about it and sharing its history.”
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the Kentucky Military Historians and Collectors Association will have booths at the pavilion.
“They’ll see anything and everything you can possibly think of associated with World War II,” he said. “What’s in it for them is to learn a little bit about what it’s taken to make America the America with the freedom we have.”
Guests also can take time to enjoy the nature park and its military-related monuments, Vance said.
“All day long people will be able to go to the (Vietnam veteran memorial wall) and people will be able to spend time at the wall,” he said.
As for seating, the upper parking lot of the nature park is closed off and will have chairs and bleachers available, but Vance said viewers are welcome to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets for seating.
The exhibition firing Friday night also is meant to serve a remembrance of veterans, Vance said.
“The firing is going to remember the World War II veterans that gave their life and all along the way, the men and women that have been ready and willing to fight for our freedom,” he said. “He’s also going to do one charge from the tank from behind the wall in honor of the Vietnam veterans.”
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