On Christmas Day 1776, George Washington crossed the Delaware to deliver a shock to the Hessian mercenaries in British service, giving a big shot in the arm to American chances to gain the independence so recently declared.
Toward the end of 1944, there was a lot of loose talk among GIs about the war being over by Christmas. The Germans put a stop to that by launching a shocking offensive into the Ardennes Forest on Dec. 16, the start of what Americans call the Battle of the Bulge.
In wartime as well as in peace, Americans have experienced their most cherished holiday in a variety of ways. On Saturday, Dec. 2, the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia will celebrate the ways Christmas was marked during our nation’s conflicts, ever since the beginning. The special Saturday program will be called “Christmas in the Trenches.” It will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission will be free.
Visitors will see more than trenches. They’ll witness living re-enactments showing what it was like when Americans tried to keep the Christmas spirit alive in times of war, from the 1770s through our involvement in Vietnam.
The vignettes will portray specific events. Many of the details are still in the works, but they will cover:
- The Revolutionary period. Among other features, this will be enhanced by Christmas wreaths made in the colonial style.
- The Civil War, depicting troops in the field at Yuletide.
- Camp Wetherill in Greenville, at the end of 1898 during the Spanish-American War.
- Soldiers celebrating in the least hospitable of settings “Over There” in 1917.
- Either Belgium during the Bulge or a scene from the Italian front, in 1944.
- A South Carolina home front scene, also in 1944.
- S. Navy crew quarters in December 1950 in Korea.
- Vietnam, during one of the nation’s most shockingly eventful years, 1968.
- And Santa Claus, dressed as he was envisioned during the period. Which period? Come and see.
The program is presented in partnership with folks who have brought so many programs to historically accurate life at the museum in the past, including Kenneth Robison — founder of the American Italian Military Society and former president of the Sons of Spanish-American War Veterans group – and Bruce Cotner of Military Timelines Interpretations, plus about a dozen others.
Come on out and get in the spirit. It should be both fun and educational.