Our Opinion: Next year, bring a banner


We are not saying actual Nazis marched in the Vermont Blueberry Festival's Blueberry Parade on July 26, but we understand how observers of the parade might have been a little bit thrown by the sight of men in full World War II German Army regalia.

It appears the marchers in German uniforms were participants in the Living History Association's 28th Annual Time Line Event held at the Dover Forge on Route 100. The Time Line "encampment" at the Forge includes reenactors from ancient times to modern day with ongoing demonstrations of customs, crafts and weaponry with a wide array of gear and equipage.

We are not going to explore the psychology of people who collect German and Nazi memorabilia from World War II, nor why they feel the need to don the garb and march in a family friendly event. However, reenactments can play a vital role in helping people to learn about history and about military tactics and strategy.

Apparently, in years past, the reenactors carried a banner explaining their participation in the parade, but, for some reason, the banner was not present at this year's parade.

Now, most people who are regular observers of the parade or live in or around Dover, are aware of the Time Line Event and that it occurs at the same time as the Blueberry Festival. Those observers probably saw the reenactors, including those in German uniforms, and took no undue notice of them.

However, we are sure there were more than one or two people watching the parade who had no idea there was a historical reenactment in progress. Because there was no banner to introduce the actors, they might have been left scratching their heads wondering exactly why these men were marching in odd bits of military clothing from different eras.

We can imagine their distress when they saw the German uniforms and, if they looked close enough, a swastika on the clothing of at least one of the reenactors. Depending on your perspective, seeing a swastika on a day meant for blueberries and fun might just ruin the whole experience.

All of this could have been prevented by the reenactors carrying a banner. It would have informed parade observers exactly what they were seeing and at the same time it might have encouraged some of them to go to the Dover Forge and see the encampment.

We would encourage the Living History Association to insist its reenactors carry a banner at next year's parade. Part of the LHA's mission is edification, and we applaud its members for their dedication to history, but carry a banner next year and avoid any whiff of controversy.


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