Last weekend, Sept. 24-25, Rockford’s Midway Village Museum hosted the country’s largest World War II re-enactment (see pictures on page B4). A number of veterans’ groups participated in the event. One participant, Kevin J. McCarthy, granted us an exclusive interview.
The Rock River Times: Which veterans’ groups do you belong to?
Kevin McCarthy: I belong to the National World War II Memorial [organization] in Washington, D.C. I am an ambassador for them; also for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the Disabled American Veterans, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and several others.
TRRT: What area did you serve in during World War II?
McCarthy: I am not actually a World War II veteran. I support the veterans’ groups.
TRRT: How did you happen to get interested?
McCarthy: My father was a World War II veteran. He was in the Navy, a Seaman 1st Class. My dad passed away in 2000. At that time, Wal-Mart and some other organizations were doing some fund-raising for the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. That’s how I got involved in that group. Then, I started making donations here and there. Then, I really got involved talking to my friends and started making larger donations throughout the years.
TRRT: How many years have you participated in re-enactments?
McCarthy: It was actually in ’05, when I finally talked to someone who was a re-enactor, and one thing led to another. … The unit I belong to — whom we pattern ourselves after — is the 2nd Infantry Division, 9th U.S. Army. They served from World War I and are still going today. In World War II, the 2nd Infantry Division came in on D-Day Plus 3. D-Day was June 6, 1944, and they came in on the 9th.
TRRT: Do you have any special friends that you get together with at these events?
McCarthy: Numerous ones … a number of re-enactors. We also portray other branches [of the armed services]. When my dad was in the Army, sometimes I will portray him in a similar uniform like he wore, to honor my dad.
TRRT: So, you’re not limited to one branch?
McCarthy: Our group is the 2nd Infantry Division, 9th U.S. Army. I belong to that group, but we also go out of that role, too. I portray my dad in the Fourth of July Parade, and I also have a Marine uniform given to me by a daughter of one of the Guadalcanal veterans. She knew that I would honor her father, so she gave me her father’s uniform, so I will wear her father’s Marine uniform. My best collectibles are the uniforms from veterans themselves and from their sons and daughters, knowing that they will carry on their fathers’ spirits while educating others today about the sacrifices of the World War II generation. Let people know, so we don’t forget about World War II veterans and their generation.
From the Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2011, issue