June 9, 2008 â€“ The Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter of Lebanon hosted a World War II Memorial at the Lebanon Municipal Airport Saturday with a hand-full of WWII aircraft and ground battle reenactments to honor the war's veterans.
"We are honoring our vets, mainly our WWII vets, which we are losing at an alarming rate each day. In a few years, there will not be any to thank for what they have done," said Gary Piper, president of the Lebanon EEA chapter. "This is a first time for an event like this in the area. The fact that we have these airplanes and they will be active all day long, with all kinds of flying activities, is an accomplishment."
Founding member of the Lebanon EEA, J.J. Tomlinson, added, "All this brings back a lot of memories and being here to see the old timers enjoy it is nice."
As WWII and airplane enthusiasts arrived at the airport, they were greeted by close to 20 planes sitting on the air strip with others flying through the air.
"We saw a couple of planes flying over, so we decided to see the air show," said William Anderson of Lebanon with his family. "We are quite impressed that small town Lebanon was able to get the selection of airplanes to come out."
"All members of the EAA War Bird division of the Experimental Aircraft Association have meetings throughout the year in different places, and we were able to secure their first meeting of 2008 here during this event," said Piper. "What's really good about that is during these meetings, they go through currency flights to become current with their formation flying.
"They are not up here just for a show, they are up here getting their currencies. What better way than in front of a whole bunch of people that really want to see them."
While some came out to honor veterans and checkout the memorial event, others like the Gregorys of Hartsville came out to be close to the planes.
"We love airplanes," said Linda.
"I just enjoy watching them fly, and it's just fun all round," said Roger. "I've been watching airplanes ever since I was a little boy. Some people love cars, some people like boats. I like airplanes. With all the colors, models and engine sounds, this is just a great event."
Phil Pincion of Nashville brought his son, Elliott, to the event to share his love for these planes.
"Anything that flies, but especially War Birds," said Pincion with a smile. "These planes are pieces of history. I appreciate the people who take the time to train and fly the planes instead of having them sitting on display. Of course it's a tight rope to walk. When the planes sit in the museums, they know nothing will happen to them unless a storm goes through. But when you are flying them, since they are living history, they are taking the chance of losing them to a crash or something.
"I work at the Metro Police Department, and during our youth camps, the Experimental Aircraft Association from Lebanon are kind enough to take some of our kids in their personal aircrafts. There are a couple of planes [here] that I have flown in a couple of years ago. So, it's little bit something special for me here today."
While many attendees were in awe of the War Birds on display, the EEA also gave guest an opportunity to watch living history with a ground battle re-enactment with the 120th Regiment of the 30th Infantry Division and Navy Nurse.
"I started researching WWII after my father died," said Kathryne N. DeWitt, who is a WWII living history re-enactor portraying a member of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. "He was a veteran. I became interested in what he went through. While doing research, I discovered there was a lot of information not being taught in the school systems. The more I learned, the more fascinated I became, and realized more people need to learn about that. So, I became a living historian.
"When I can spark interest, especially in children and hear, 'Wow, I didn't know that' or 'That's interesting,' I feel like I've accomplished something."
DeWitt added that WWII veterans are dying at record numbers every day, and that in five years they will be gone.
"The only thing that will remain is what we have in history books and what we have learned from them. So I think it's important to spark the public's interest while there are some remaining, so they can get first hand information," she said. "I have had a lot of veterans tell me some of the popular historians have gotten the information wrong. And that's scary."