World War II veterans will be honored and remembered with special events at the 17th annual WWII Heritage Days, May 2-3, 2020, at Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field in Peachtree City. The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Dixie Wing is planning to salute the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II with new events such as a Heroes Parade and a commemorative wall where families can highlight heroes of the Greatest Generation. “This will be a rare opportunity to honor and thank our living WWII veterans, as well as remember those who have passed,” said Dixie Wing Leader Jim Buckley. “their numbers are dwindling rapidly, and WWII Heritage Days is a great opportunity to show them our gratitude.”
A record crowd exceeding 5,000 attended WWII Heritage Days in 2019 when the CAF Dixie Wing commemorated the 75th Anniversary of D-Day with paratrooper drops from D-Day C-47 transport airplanes and an opening ceremony that featured guest officials from France and Canada. The Dixie Wing hosted 78 World War II veterans, the largest such gathering in Georgia. The U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team and Maneuver of Excellence Band from Ft. McPherson also participated.
Some of the 2018 participants expressed the meaning of WWII Days in their own words:
- “This experience brought back my memories of going through jump school at Fort Benning in early 1945,” said veteran Mercer Fisher, who attended in 2018. “Due to the high loss of paratroopers in Europe during WWII, the Army lowered the paratrooper volunteer age to 18 from 21. At the end of the Golden Nights jump, they presented me with an engraved wooden memento that had been passed “hand-to-hand” among the jumpers prior to their ‘bailing out’. Thank you for this incredible experience. It was one of the best days of my life.”
- “The reenactments were so authentic and gave one a deeper appreciation and understanding of those things that our husbands, brothers and fathers endured for our future,” said Betty Bishop, a “Rosie the Riveter” who helped build WWII aircraft. “The total atmosphere was one of authenticity, patriotism and a reminder of how blessed we are to live in this country. Returning to Heritage Days became to me like returning to one big family reunion. Those visits are now a highlight in the life of this 94-year-old ‘Rosie’.”
- “My grandfather, Victor Nelson, was a paratrooper with the 101stAirborne assigned to “That’s All, Brother,” the plane from the D-Day invasion,” said Amber Balatine. “Standing near the runway watching ‘That’s All, Brother’s descent, surrounded by the historically accurate sights and sounds of the 1940s, I was overwhelmed with emotion; sadness that my grandfather wasn’t there to share his stories or see his plane again, and pride in knowing his legacy and the legacy of those like him will continue to live on through the collective efforts of WWII Heritage Days and the Commemorative Air Force.”
“Men and women who answer the call to service come from different backgrounds, different religions, and different cultures, but at the end of the day, they are a united team serving and defending the American ideals of liberty and justice for all,” said Mike E. Roby, Georgia’s Commissioner of the Department of Veteran Service. “Those who answer the call know they are part of a massive network of service members, veterans, and families who will always remember their courage and fortitude in the face of uncertainty. The service and sacrifice of those who came before us will never be forgotten.”
WWII Heritage Days is the largest World War II-themed event in Georgia, bringing together historic aircraft, dozens of vintage military vehicles, antique cars, educational displays and demonstrations. More than 500 volunteers from a dozen states help create the 1940s atmosphere. The event is supported by WWII Heritage Days sponsors including Peachtree City Convention & Visitors Bureau and Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field.
On Saturday evening, the romance and glamor of the Big Band Era will return with a “Victory Dance”, a 1940s-theme hangar dance featuring a live 20-piece swing band. The evening is set in the Dixie Wing Warbird Museum, decorated to recreate the ambiance of the period and honor our nation’s veterans. The dance has become a regional tradition, selling out for the last six years. “The CAF is best known as the largest World War II flying museum in the world,” said Buckley, “but our mission is to educate, inspire and honor through flight.” In keeping with the mission, WWII Heritage Days also features aircraft and vehicles from the Korean War and Viet Nam War.
For more information about WWII Heritage Days, please visit www.wwiidays.org.