Breakfast with George Washington & Teddy Roosevelt at Old Fort MacArthur

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I had breakfast with General George Washington on Sunday morning. He seemed glad to see Sir Rich as the founder of our country lead the Continental Army troops on parade.

I’ve always admired his large campaign tent, which I first entered in the Smithsonian Institution In Washington, DC, the city named after him. And the mushrooms cooking over the fire smelled delicious smelling as the women stirred the skillet. Yum!

I also waved to President Teddy Roosevelt, who sported his toothy grin, wire rim glasses and bushy mustache. I chatted with his troops getting ready to take San Juan Hill in the Spanish American War.

Of course, I felt kinship with the Vikings encamped down by the ocean. But I didn’t see anyone I knew, even though my grandmother was born and raised in Stockholm. Still it’s grand to see the Viking spirit alive and well.

The Roundheads in the English Civil War couldn’t have been nicer to me. But then my great-grandmother’s family probably sided with them during the battle to curb the king’s power.

The Roman centurion was leading his troops down the road to battle. They looked marvelous in their bright red tunics and shiny armor. But I wouldn’t want to mess with their javelins or short swords, so I stayed in camp and watched the young men practice with wooden swords.

Of course, there’s always lots to see in the Civil War encampments, which seemed larger this year. I still side with the Union troops fighting to end slavery. But I still respected the fight that Johnny Reb put up.

I’ve put the past behind me, visiting Jefferson Davis’ fine home in Richmond, Va., as well as his summer home in Biloxi, Miss.

Living history is why I love Old Fort MacArthur Days in San Pedro. It’s a trip through military history. The grand event was held over the weekend on Saturday and Sunday, July 8-9.

One minute, you’re marching behind a Roman Legion cohort or watching the centurion teach his men how to form a shield wall and gut the enemy with their short swords. The next you’ll down in the trenches with a German army unit during World War I.

Then an old ambulance with solid rubber tires rumbles by, making we wonder if this is how my grandfather felt while serving with an American field hospital in World War I.

The costumes are spectacular as each military encampment tries to outdo the next. I’ve never seen a cavalry unit from the Spanish American War, but there they were with their tan pants and navy blue shirts. Amazing!

Indeed, you can find soldiers from almost every war that America has fought throughout its history. Naturally, I’m drawn to the World War II Army units that my father served with in Italy.

And the Vietnam veterans certainly take me back to my high school days, when war coverage was a daily event.

Don’t miss the many battles that will take place over the weekend. Last year, I loved the American charge up San Juan Hill. I also got to see an actual Gatling gun in action, the gunner cranking the handler while another fed the magazines down through the top.

I was disappointed that the World War II Sherman tank didn’t make this year, but someone said the crew was in Europe at a big war anniversary. At least the German paratroops showed up. You know the soldiers are all shooting blanks, but when GI’s start dropping, you begin to wonder!

The big event was set in the scenic hillside of Angels Gate Park where they hold the historic battle re-enactments.

They say this is the largest continually running re-enactment and living history timeline event in the West! For more than 20 years, the Fort MacArthur Museum has sponsored what has turned into the west’s largest multicultural celebration of world military history.

Thanks for letting me live the pages of history that I’ve only seen in books before. It makes it so much more fun!!!

 

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