The Museum of American Armor at Old Bethpage Restoration Village will present “Tanker Foes” this Labor Day weekend as allied and replica enemy tanks will be operating in the village’s church field. This will be part of ongoing ceremonies remembering the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II.
“We are going to feature utility vehicles, such as tank destroyers and personnel vehicles, as well as our armored wheel vehicles,” said Curator Kevin Carroll. “These vehicles will be operating in groups, likely in the countries that they operated in.”
For this event, the museum will have its classic Sherman tank and M18 Hellcat as part of the American vehicles that are used in the field. As for the German side, Carroll is hoping that a replica Tiger tank will come in time for the event. The nearly 55-ton enemy vehicle was one of the most feared weapons on the World War II battlefield.
“It’s a completely new tank for us,” said Carroll. “It’s coming from Sweden. It is actually in transit right now on the bounding seas. It should arrive in a couple days, and has to be reviewed by customs and several other agencies before it’s released. One of the operators from Sweden will be demonstrating how to operate it for us.”
While it is an event dedicated to World War II, there are other vehicles that will be in operation during the event. These vehicles include a Cold War U.S. M48 Patton tank, an amphibious U.S. Marine LVT Amtrac used to attack Japanese occupied islands, a British Bren Carrier and a broad range of other historic military vehicles.
As always with events like these at the museum, on site will also be a collection of demonstrators known as living historians, who are part of the Long Island Living Historians Association (LILHA). They will be wearing military garb and holding period-correct weapons to give visitors an authentic look at what soldiers had to wear and use during that time period. These people will be operating the vehicles and will provide information to those who are interested in learning more about them and World War II in general following the parade.
“We are certainly not trying to glorify the people who were in those German tanks, but we are trying to show what Americans had to face down like that Tiger tank,” said Carroll. “They did it with courage and strength. That’s what we hope people take away is an appreciation for what they did then and what our military does now in keeping us safe and defending the country.”
Carroll emphasized how the museum is unique from many other museums around the world in that these vehicles operate, and to experience that in person is unlike anything you can imagine.
“As amazing as it is to see these tanks in person when they are static, that feeling is magnified fourfold by the ability to see them, to hear them, to smell them, to feel the rumble underneath the ground and see the crackling of the tracks,” said Carroll.
Most importantly, the museum wants to emphasize the importance of World War II in global history, from its impact on the Cold War to how the problems in the Middle East could be traced back to the war. Events and showcases like these give the museum the opportunity to teach people in the younger generations what the time period was like and how necessary it is to remember it.
“We have followed a strategy to present several replicas of enemy armor for the specific purpose of instructing thousands of visitors, especially school groups, that defeating tyranny requires courage, sacrifice and valor,” said Lawrence Kadish, president and founder of the armor museum. “Those who faced down enemy armor knew that their odds of finding a vulnerable part of a tank were small but they confronted it in the knowledge that the Nazis had to be defeated at all costs. These replicas will allow us to help tell that story.”
“It’s our founder’s mantra that World War II still matters,” said Carroll.
The event will take place on Saturday, Aug. 31 and Sunday, Sept. 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Museum of American Armor thanks its sponsors for the program, which include PSEG Long Island, Squad Security, Polimeni International, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, BDG, Ltd., Bristal Assisted Living and the law firm of Rosenberg, Calica & Birney.
For more information, visit www.museumofamericanarmor.org or like them on Facebook.