Living history at Zephyrhills Military Museum

D-Day Normandy Invasion event brings history to life

Andre Canford is just 11 years old. He’s a typical kid who loves video games and sports. He thinks school is OK if he is learning about “something cool.”

Canford saw plenty of “cool” things at the D-Day remembrance event on the grounds at the Zephyrhills Museum of Military History Saturday afternoon. The boy from Zephyrhills try stood completely still and hung on every word that World War II Military re-enactor Chris Heesch was saying during a weapons demonstration during the event that saw roughly 1,000 people come through the gates.

“I didn’t know how many different guns there were,” Canford said holding shell casing from an eight millimeter round. “That is something we never learned in school. That would be cool if we did.”

Canford’s statement rings true and the dozens of military re-enactors in Zephyrhills this weekend want to educate the younger generations who don’t know about D-Day and World War II. For the older generation, they want to make sure the historical significance of the sacrifices made on the beaches of Normandy is not forgotten pieces of history.

“We all have grandparents and we all live in this wonderful country. We all need to know how we got here,” Heesch said. “The young people who are brought here are not the kids I’m worried about. It’s the ones who don’t know about D-Day and World War II who won’t know about their heritage.”

Cliff Moffett, President of the Museum and event coordinator, wanted to be sure that history is told about Zephyrhills being part D-Day with the 10th Fighter Squadron providing ground support for the troops landing on the beaches of Normandy.

The 10th Fighter Squadron trained in their P-47 Fighter planes at Zephyrhills Municipal Airport leading up to the landing at Normandy. A special section of the museum is dedicated to the 10th Squadron with photos of the pilots and crew who trained in Zephyrhills.

“Nobody knows that Zephyrhills was part of D-Day and this event is to highlight that,” Moffett said. “We’re here to highlight what this community did for the world.”

Moffett can’t help but smile when he sees children in the museum and walking on the grounds asking questions.

“They just want to know more,” Moffett said. “They are like sponges. It’s a great thing.”

The D-Day commemoration event at the Zephyrhills Museum of Military History, 39444 South Ave., continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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