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Emmitsburg, prepare to be liberated!

(9/4) On Saturday, Sept. 20, Emmitsburg will need saving and only American troops will be able to liberate the town from the Nazis.

The 4th Infantry Division Military Police Platoon 8th Infantry Division, 82nd Airborne and 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion (totalling about 26 vehicles and at least 60 soldiers) will march and drive north on South Seton Avenue and through the town square to St. Joseph’s Church. They will capture German troops belonging to the 2nd Gebirgsjager Division.

The 15-minute event will be designed to look like the liberation of a French town with a name similar to Emmitsburg in August 1944. The platoon will liberate the town on their way tow the Eisenhower National Historic Site to participate in their WWII weekend event. Then they will stop next to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church to meet and talk with residents.

“This is a fun way for us to drive to the Eisenhower event and everyone really likes it,” said Bob Buker, the event organizer. “Last year was fantastic. Everybody there was so awestruck with the participation in the town.” He added that the word-of-mouth excitement generated by the participants is why almost twice as many re-enactors will be participating in this year’s event.

Activities will begin at 10 a.m. Residents are encouraged to line the street similar to how the French welcomed the American troops. The soldiers will also give the children candy and gum as they would have done in 1944. The re-enactors will also arrange to have people handing the soldiers French bread, flowers, cheese and wine (sparkling apple cider). Buker also obtained 25 original WWII French and U.S. 48-star flags that residents can wave at the liberating troops.

“They came off of a ship that was bringing home the troops in 1945. A soldier climbed up the mast and cut the rope to get the flags as a souvenir,” Buker wrote in an e-mail.

Banners that read “Vive Les Americains!” and “Vive Les Liberateurs” will be hung along the route.

Buker also said that the participation of Mount St. Mary’s University’s French program helped lend authenticity to last year’s event.

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