It's the strangest thing, really. Mr. Night has a small squad of plastic army men performing maneuvers on his desk, and yet no one really remembers when they showed up. One day the forest of empty Coke cans was just an eyesore; the next day it was a well-ordered camp with a solid perimeter. Hell, it took almost a week for him to notice that his bookshelf was manned by three tough-looking dudes armed with bazookas. Sadly, their spotter was flicked behind the cubicle wall by staff photographer Jennifer Silverberg in a fit of pique, and neither he nor his binoculars have been seen since. But that's not the strange thing in question; no, what's strange is that an ill-mannered lout in his late 30s still plays with army men, and that 70 years ago, a huge number of Americans fought and died for his right to do so.
The Second Ranger Battalion of St. Louis does more than play with army men, though. These historical re-enactors (www.2ndrangers.org) pay tribute to the "greatest generation" by setting up the World War II Weekend at Jefferson Barracks Park (533 Grant Road; 314-544-5714) every year to help educate people about why and how WW II was fought. Members portray American, British, Canadian, Russian and German soldiers, going all out to replicate uniforms, insignia and gear. That gear includes vintage motorcycles and tanks, as well as the iconic Jeep. The public is invited to stop by Saturday and Sunday (April 29 and 30) to walk through the encampment, ask questions, take pictures, and witness the troops as they re-enact battles at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and at noon Sunday. Admission is free all weekend.
Sat., April 29; Sun., April 30
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