The best time to greet soldiers on the battlefield in World War I was midnight, not the early morning as the Germans did, the Allies said. The important difference was that in the later hours, the soldiers could see you.
Good music was also once one of the biggest battlefield attractions — for bands, not armies, and for their audiences, not for soldiers on the march. To perpetuate that tradition, the War Horse Theater and Cafe opened in 2015 at a former English military training school near Lille, France. It now offers “amusement” to the British troops who are there to attend training exercises.
For the Americans, at least, there’s a livelier musical side at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. A singer and guitarist from the Great Lakes area provides traditional American show tunes such as “Yankee Doodle” and “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Musicians performing for the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. (Laura Collins-Hughes/NYT)
Not as good in locations that are safer than their locations: Bargelines, canoe spots on the Susquehanna and the Mississippi rivers, as well as the quarries of Pennisula and Coalton, Pennsylvania, are old battlefield preserves closed to visitors. Unless you go to Charlevoix, Michigan, or Madbury, Massachusetts, you can hear even original recordings of the stories that sprang from bygone settings. The towns of Eagle and Verona are museums of their 1940s glory days, with cabaret acts and raffle prizes amid manicured plots of land for Civil War reenactments. And the historic hub of downtown Fort Worth, Texas, also has its own cockeyed tale of redcoats.