Fort Carson troops and an army of reenactors on Saturday will introduce the public to the role soldiers from the post's 4th Infantry Division played in the liberation of Europe 75 years ago.
The event wraps up the Pikes Peak region's Armed Forces Week festivities and comes ahead of the anniversary of the June 6, 1944, invasion of France that led to the downfall of Hitler's Germany. Called Living History Day, it offers a mix of World War II and modern military gear along with soldiers and history buffs to explain it all.
Joe Berg, who runs the Fort Carson museum just outside the post's main gate said that even as America fights through 17 consecutive years of warfare, World War II still draws a crowd.
"World War II was a time when there was much less ambiguity," he said.
Fort Carson has held history events for the past six years, but Saturday's event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., is the largest by far.
The field at Nelson Boulevard and Highway 115 will be filled with tanks, trucks and howitzers. Four dozen reenactors dressed in World War II regalia will be joined by dozens of soldiers from the post for a series of demonstrations.
Among the highlights, Berg said, are a stop by one of the post's massive CH-47 Chinook helicopters and a demonstration of the skills possessed by military working dogs.
The reenactors will portray American troops in the run-up to D-Day as an allied army massed in England in the days and weeks before they stormed the beaches at Normandy.
The 4th Infantry Division survived June 6, 1944, when a few leaders took advantage of what some saw as bad luck.
Navigational errors that morning put the division's troops on the wrong stretch of beach, but the cane-wielding middle-aged leader on the beach, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., told his troops to push on.
"The war starts here," he famously told his soldiers.
But Roosevelt, son of the Rough Rider president, also understood his troops had landed on a beach far less dangerous than the one they had planned to hit. The lack of German opposition made the 4th Infantry Division the only unit among the allies that landed its entire complement on the first day.
The division's soldiers fought their way into Germany by war's end. They later fought in Vietnam and Iraq. Today the division has soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan.
In addition to the history lesson, Saturday's event also offers a way for the community to gain an understanding of Fort Carson without having to tangle with the post's tight security.
The whole event takes place outside the post's guarded gates and has the most family-friendly admission price: free.