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Home of the free, town of the brave

(10/2) “Emsbourg 5 km”

That’s what the sign on Motter Station Road read on Saturday morning, Sept. 20. However, while Emmitsburg or Emsbourg may have been 5 km. away, it lay to the north not to the west on a gravel road, which is the direction the sign pointed.

Members of the 4th Infantry Division Military Police Platoon, 8th Infantry Division, 82nd Airborne and the 1st Canadian Paratroop Battalion weren’t worried, though, as they took the road, crossed a stream and then started up a narrow country lane.
No, they weren’t concerned until the Nazis opened fire on them.


Yes, Nazis, or rather members of the 2nd Gebirgsjager Division. The groups conducted a mock ambush at the Buck Forest Farm in Rocky Ridge on their way to “liberate” Emmitsburg from the Germans.

The 2nd Annual “Liberation of Emmitsburg” was held included war re-enactors liberating Emsbourg from Nazi occupation in 1944.

Liberating Emmitsburg: (Top) Daniel Hoyle, 2, waves to the American troops as they leave Buck Forest Farm. (Bottom) French resistance fighters cover captured Nazis in “Emsbourg.”

Motorcycles led the convoy of 22 military vehicles up Seton Avenue to a crowd of welcoming townspeople. To show their appreciation, the “liberated” greeted the soldiers with flowers, wine (sparkling apple cider) and French bread.

“I remember my dad telling me about the [liberated] people being so happy to see the soldiers,” said Mary Ann Right, a spectator from Emmitsburg.

The liberation not only celebrated the rescued town, but also paid tribute to WWII veterans.

“I do it to honor my father,” said Neal Pizzano, who helped coordinate the event and also participated in the re-enactment.

“It was very enjoyable. They did an accurate and very nice job,” said Pizzano’s father, Bob, who was in the 4th Infantry Division during WWII. “It was just like the old days; it sure brought back memories.”

The re-enactment is organized mostly by word of mouth and e-mail, according to Pizzano. He also gives credit to re-enactor Bob Buker and Mike Hillman, president of the Greater Emmitsburg Area Historical Society, for helping to arrange the event.

“Mike just shoots out ideas, one after the other,” said Pizzano.

The effort and planning helped the “liberation” grow to 22 vehicles, including a half-track and jeeps, compared to the 13 last year. German soldiers were also added to make it more realistic, while last year only Allied troops were represented.












“It’s wonderful to see,” Pizzano said.

After the parade, the troops stopped at St. Joseph’s Church to rest and allow members of the community to look at the vehicles and firearms. The re-enactors then headed out to the WWII living history weekend at Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Events similar to the “liberation of Emmitsburg” are less common than encampments or Civil War re-enactments, but according to Pizzano, a large cross country convoy will be held next year from Washington D.C. to Seattle or California.

Hillman hopes to turn the ambush part of the Emmitsburg event into a public event next year.

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