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Operation Celebration again honors the 'Greatest Generation'

Peabody Main Street Association will host the second annual “Operation Celebration: 1940s” during Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25, in Peabody. Launched in 2008 as an event to honor a declining number of World War II veterans, the celebration was so popular PMSA board members believed it was important to bring back.

“We had so many requests to do it again,” said PMSA director Shane Marler. “We have had the 2009 website up and running for about two months and we have already had 1,900 hits. That indicates people were watching for news of Operation Celebration. They wanted to take part again.”

Popular features of the 2008 celebration will return and new events are being planned.

“Once again, while the focus is on World War II, we hope all area veterans will join us,” Marler said. “We all owe a debt to the men and women who served, no matter what the conflict.”

Marler also invited veterans from Marion County to participate.

Following the Victory Parade a reception for veterans will take place at Santa Fe Park in downtown Peabody.

“This is something we learned during the first celebration,” said Marler. “At the end of the parade so many people wanted to greet the veterans as they disembarked from the parade trams.

“People wanted to thank them for their service to the country, shake hands, and hear their stories,” he said. “But we didn’t realize it would be like that and everyone just sort of drifted away. This year we will have a place set up at the park where people can visit with the veterans and express their appreciation.”

Also new this year (although still in the planning stage) is a World War II weapons demonstration by Allied re-enactors. The demonstration will include a grenade throw, guaranteed to grab everyone’s attention.

A M.A.S.H. unit also has signed up to demonstrate a field hospital in action during the WWII conflict.

Peabody Main Street design committee will be helping downtown businesses emphasize what might have been in their store windows during the lean years of the war. Posters, propaganda, clothing, and household items of the 1940s will be featured.

The “Vault of Treasures” again will be set up in the American Legion building downtown.

“This was probably the most popular exhibit,” said Marler. “People from all over Marion County brought us their stories, photos, uniforms, medals, and memorabilia.”

Marler said that this year the “Vault of Treasures” will be open two days — Saturday and Sunday — instead of just one.

“We hope to get a good collection of items from all over the county again,” he said. “And if people brought us memorabilia in 2008, we’d love to have it on display again. We anticipate entertaining people who didn’t attend the first time.”

A 1940s swing band, “A Touch of Class” will entertain Saturday evening under the big tent on the Marshall Auction Warehouse lawn. The Senseney Music concert band will perform Sunday evening in conjunction with a free ice cream social in honor of Peabody Main Street’s 20th birthday.

“The weekend also will feature a parade, a fly-over, the El Dorado World War II museum display, a historic flag display, and many other events,” Marler said. “We hope everyone reading this will join us as we honor our veterans, especially those of the ‘Greatest Generation’.”

For more information, to sponsor an event, or to participate contact Marler at 983-2174.

Last modified April 15, 2009

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