The bridge over the Allegheny River at Tidioute is once again in American hands after its capture last weekend from ersatz German Wehrmacht.
Once again scores of re-enactors representing American and German troops descended on Tidioute to remind us of a key battle during the struggle to free Europe from Nazi domination.
War re-enactors, whether they depict the Revolution, the Civil War or World War II, serve an important role by reminding folks here at home of the sacrifices made by soldiers in defense of this nation or its union. Few history books can accurately depict the sweat, the fatigue, the chaos of battle better than what can be witnessed first-hand at a re-enactment.
However, there are a few aspects of battle - important aspects - that are absent: death, suffering and paralyzing fear.
When Steven Spielberg's Oscar winning "Saving Private Ryan" was released to theaters, some veterans organizations suggested that combat veterans consider carefully whether to see it because of its graphic presentation of the three things just mentioned. After only minutes into the depiction of the Normandy landing, one hoped the filmmaker would soon move on to the next segment. It was important for Spielberg to linger on that blood-soaked beach, however, and he used all of the special effects available to him to make the audience "uncomfortable."
We hope spectators at Saturday's re-enactment of the battle for the Bridge at Remagen took away from the experience a new respect for the sacrifices of our fathers and grandfathers, citizen soldiers who were thrust into the jaws of Hell and saved the world from tyranny.
Next summer, re-enactors will descend on Gettysburg to remind us of the battle that was the turning point of the Civil War. There will be smoke and yelling and people pretending to be shot but not what prompted Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman to lament:
"I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell."