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Humble Beginnings in 2012 - Winged Deer Park, Johnson City Tennessee - In 2012, event founder Paul Morrison Jr. had a one goal in
mind; to hold an event to honor the American Soldier throughout our
nations history. His passion for WWII history and his vision for a need
for such an event in Northeast Tennessee began with less than 2 dozen
participants and few spectators. On the forefront of national expansion at
the time of the Revolutionary War, the beautiful mountains and rich heritage of
what was the State of Franklin served as the perfect backdrop to hold such an
event. Although there were few who even heard of A Walk in Their
Boots, it was never the less a start.
Year 2 - Winged Deer Park, Johnson City Tennessee - In 2013, area residents were given another opportunity to enjoy the passion of even more living historians. Sometimes known as reenactors, these amateur historians, interested in the past and those that served, perhaps distant family members, fuel the fire of desire to represent a particular moment in history. Although sparsely attended by the public, the love for history and telling it to whomever would listen was still evident among the reenactors present.
Year 3 - November 8th, 2014 - Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, Elizabethton Tennessee - A new venue for the growing event now incorporated the historic fort of the Revolutionary War period. What served as the Patriot's staging point for the Battle of Kings Mountain, this site was well suited to hold an event such as this. With the Watauga River along the Northern Edge of the grounds, the on-site Museum of Frontier Life, and the reconstructed Fort, it was the perfect setting. Armed with a stockpile of supply and covered by the surrounding territory shielded the Colonial Militiamen that gathered here on September 25th, 1780. Marching and riding from the Fort the following day, on October 7th, 900 Patriots advanced by horse to surprise the British force. Despite the British holding a superior position on an overlooking knoll, the Patriots advanced repeatedly making use of rocks and trees as cover. 65 minutes later the battle of Kings Mountain was over in an overwhelming victory for the Colonial Militia over British Provincial troops and Loyalist Militia. Some consider this engagement the beginning of the end of Crown's rule in Colonial America. Featuring the fort, early American history took center stage along with displays of Civil War and World War Two and simulation of battle tactics, equipment demonstrations and of course the reenactor telling the stories of those who carried them in this very historic setting. This was the first year that the event coupled their activities around Veterans Day, the National Holiday that honors those that have served our great country.
Year 4 - November 7th and 8th, 2015 - Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, Elizabethton Tennessee - Maintaining the commitment of honoring those who served this great country in her most difficult times, pre-Veterans Day weekend proved to be the perfect choice to hold the 2015 event. Building upon the success of the 2014 event, A Walk in Their Boots began to attract a more diverse reenactor core, with the addition of those that portray the War of 1812, World War One and the little known Coal Miners Battle at Blair Mountain West Virginia were the roots of the term "Red Neck" began. 62 reenactors from the Revolutionary War Era through WWII once again made use of Sycamore Shoals width and diversity enabling historical impressions to be kept separate from each other. The event truly became a "walk" back in time for some 600 attending spectators. Planning ahead for 2016, attending veterans were asked to complete a brief questionnaire about their service and provide their contact information so that they could be formally invited to the following years event.
Year 5 - November 4th, 5th and 6th, 2016 - Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, Elizabethton Tennessee - The 2016 event was one of many firsts for what many feel to be a gem hidden in the hills of Northeast Tennessee. Event planners, working with local educators, developed a first person history presentation day for elementary and intermediate aged students. Over 450 students participated in the event's first annual Education Day. The children moved in groups of 30 or so pupils from station to station in 20 minute increments learning from those who are truly living history books. Rewarding in so many ways, the children were able to ask questions so they could better understand the life of a soldier throughout our countries history. Also a first, a formal Veteran Program was first introduced in 2016. 77 veterans from WWII through our most recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq attended the event validating the commitment of the reenactor. Several veterans shared their stories of service to the crowd at what will be an annual part of this event forward. Veterans were served lunch, provided nametags indicating their service eras and units served, and of course showered with sincere Thank You's! From a reenacting side, 3 significant additions made their first appearance at the 2016 event; a group of living historians dedicated to telling a little known part of American History called the Barbary Coast Wars were present, reenactors portraying American Infantry of the Vietnam War and a veteran of Desert Shield/Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and the War on Terror with contemporary displays from America's most recent military history overseas. Also firsts for the 2016 event was a evolutionary presentation of weapons followed by a American Flag retirement ceremony and last but not least in any way, the presence of current National Guard servicemen with their specialize vehicles and equipment. Over 75 reenactors participated in 2016 and all are planning on participating in 2017. It was estimated that over 900 spectators attended the event.
Year 6 - November 3rd, 4th & 5th, 2017 - Tipton Haynes State Historic Site, Johnson City Tennessee - Due to a scheduling conflict, A Walk in Their Boots found it necessary to relocate the 2017 event to the Tipton Haynes State Historic Site in Johnson City Tennessee. The location was the site of the Battle for the State of Franklin in late February of 1788. The completely restored 18th century farm and homestead site provided a significant typography change for A Walk in Their Boots. Spectators had an unrestricted viewing location above the battlefield for three unique battle scenarios; Spring 1945 in Europe during WWII , the American Civil War, and for the first time, the Vietnam War. The backdrop of barns and outbuilding served to be the picturesque setting for the encampments and was especially appealing for reenactors. Photographers from throughout the region took advantage of this very natural looking setting to capture photos of living historians. Tipton Haynes was certainly the place to be for this very unique reenactment. Fast forward 104 years from the Civil War to 1967, the hillside cave complex within the park served as the backdrop of our first Vietnam Era Battle. Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War is not only our duty, but our honor. We are proud to be one of the very few reenactments in the country offering a recreation of what was America's longest war of the 20th Century.
Year 7 - Please visit the event schedule page to best plan your visit on November 3rd and 4th, 2018.
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