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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • A patriotic celebration in Doolittle, Newburg

  • Whether you turned left or right off Interstate 44 at exit 179 Saturday, you were bound to have an enjoyable day.
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  • Whether you turned left or right off Interstate 44 at exit 179  Saturday, you were bound to have an enjoyable day.
    The 39th annual Newburg Day was held as was the first General Jimmy Doolittle Victory Day in Doolittle.
    At Burns Army Surplus in Doolittle, dozens of World War II re-enactors had set up camp for the inaugural Jimmy Doolittle Victory Day, in honor of the town's namesake. The majority of the soldiers, vested in authentic military garb, were part of the 6th Corps Living History Group out of St. Louis. Not only was the U.S. Army on hand, but Russia, Australia, Germany and others had troops present.
    "I do a handful of these events each years," said Steve Johnston who served as the field cook for the U.S. Army. "We had hamburgers last night and eggs and sausage this morning. No complaints yet."
    From his GI-issued 1941 soup ladles to his Bunsen burner stoves, Johnston estimates that he has around $10,000 invested in his traveling commissary.
    For the past 11 years, 82-year-old Bill Hobbs has been bringing back to life, Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Behind his dark aviator glasses complete with corn cob pipe, Hobbs fit the bill.
    Hobbs, who portrayed MacArthur, said emphatically, "I have returned...just for the day."
    The afternoon featured a live skirmish on the hills just south of the surplus store, complete with the sounds of heavy artillery, plenty of camouflage and weaponry.
    On the itinerary as well, were a number of speakers who spoke on different World War II topics.
    Among them was Richard Ford, a St. Louis area resident, who represented the 372nd Infantry, 93rd Division. His interest in military history was piqued when he began collecting military items in the late 1970s.
    In 1989, he started speaking on the role of blacks, women and state-guard units in World War I and World War II.
    "It is important for us to know the history of these minority groups; they need recognition," he told the Daily News. "When you were in a foxhole and under attack, it didn't matter what color your buddy was next to you. You had to survive together."
    Ford estimates that he does at least 20 of these presentations at re-enactments and schools throughout the year.
    Despite a small crowd, Jeff Rigsby, manager of Burns Army Surplus and organizer of the event, said he was pleased.
    "It was a lot of work," he said, "but well worth it. It is important to come out and honor our veterans. I hope we can do this again."
    Newburg Day
    On the other side of I-44, Highway T down to Newburg was lined with American flags.
    It was the 39th annual Newburg Day.
    Page 2 of 2 - The morning kicked off with the traditional parade. From classic cars to local "celebrities" as well as Shriners circling Main Street in miniature automobiles, the parade had it all.
    Ninety two-year-old World War II veteran Arthur Paul sat in his collapsible lawn chair as he has for many Newburg Days.
    "It was a nice parade," he said.
    Hundreds of visitors browsed the tables of vendors who lined the streets. Ghana native Grace Frimpong was selling hand-woven baskets and colorful accessories from her homeland.
    "It is a good day to be here," she said.
    Throughout the city, live music and entertainment was being performed at a number of venues. While popular bluegrass outfit Rosa String Band was picking the old time classics at the gazebo, the Rocking Country Cloggers were just up the street dancing away.
    Newburg Day organizer Pat Adams said she couldn't have been happier. She's already got her sights on next year  — the big 40th celebration.

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