With one arm draped around his little sister’s shoulders, 25-year-old Marine Corps veteran Andrew Reynolds, of Endwell, listened to older veterans talk about their experiences.
“It’s about the history,” Reynolds said Saturday at a Military Vehicles Show hosted by the CNY Living History Center in Cortlandville. “Running into the older vets, it’s cool to talk to them because everyone’s story is a little bit different and it’s nice to connect.”
The collaboration between the NY-PENN Military Vehicle Collectors Club and the Homeville Museum brought several historic military vehicles to Cortlandville for the weekend-long event. The Homeville Museum and the Ken Eaton Military Collection were also on display.
The show featured trucks, jeeps, tanks and more, brought by collectors and veterans.
Vehicles dated back as far as World War II, including vehicles from the Korean and Vietnam war eras. The CNY Living History Center’s Executive Director Cindy Stoker said she hopes it will become an annual event.
“Part of why this is so important for history is the fact that our veteransare all aging, particularly those from World War II, Korea and Vietnam,” Stoker said. “Unfortunately, they don’t teach much about this in the schools anymore, and if we don’t allow our veterans to tell their stories, it’s all going to be lost.”
Members of the collectors club want to remind people that they’re still active and supporting veterans, said Vietnam veteran Bob Messersmith, vice president of the club’s Binghamton and Northeast Pennsylvania sector.
“Veterans come here and a lot of them have been involved with these old vehicles, so they come to look and it brings back memories,” Messersmith said. “They tell stories and it’s just like an old reunion.” Many events were canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, so the collectors and veterans have only recently started meeting in person again. At the Military Vehicles Show, the collectors invited families to check out the vehicles, learn the history and try on the old uniforms and bullet-proof vests.
“Especially with the kids, I’ll put the helmets and stuff on them, put a grenade in each hand so their parents can take pictures — they’re just tickled pink,” said Korean War veteran Bill Harris, former president of the Binghamton sector of the collectors’ club.
“We just want people to remember all the history that has taken place — from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, right up through the present day,” Harris added. “I think it’s important they do not forget that portion of our history, what veterans went through.”