About 400 students gathered at various times on Wednesday and Thursday on the steps of the Manassas Museum to watch a presentation by school senior Daniel Morozewicz.
Morozewicz, 18, has been a World War II re-enactor for the past two years and a Civil War re-enactor for five years.
In his 45-minute presentation, Morozewicz held the students spellbound as he talked about the World War II uniform he was wearing along with all of the equipment a soldier was required to carry as he went into combat.
At each of his presentations, Morozewicz asks for a volunteer from the audience and then dresses them up to resemble a soldier, complete with helmet and rifle.
“The students really get a kick out of seeing one of their own getting all decked out in a old uniform,” Morozewicz said following one of his presentations.
He has been gathering authentic World War II paraphernalia for the past two years, including uniforms and weapons, a pup tent, eating utensils, dog tags, gas masks, a bicycle, newspapers and magazines from that era, and his most-prized possession — a rare field telephone that he picked up while visiting France with his family last year.
Unlike Civil War uniforms and memorabilia, which are almost impossible to come by, World War II uniforms and equipment are still easy and rather inexpensive to come by, Morozewicz said.
He said he finds supplies by going to antique shops or through the Internet. “If I see something I like and don’t have, I buy it with no questions asked,” he said.
Following his presentation, the students were able to get a firsthand look and feel of the equipment he set out on the museum lawn.
Junior Harry Chazen asked if he could ride the old bicycle, and with Morozewicz’s permission he took a spin around the area.
Chazen, like the rest of the other students, said he was impressed to be studying and handling items from World War II.
“This is something you can’t get from books or in the regular classrooms,” he said.
Morozewicz gave his initial presentation last year in his history class taught by teacher Kathryn Tangretti. His response from the students was so good he asked if he could do it again, expanding his demonstration to include weapons.
When he found out the weapons couldn’t be brought into school, he asked museum officials if he could stage his presentation there. They agreed.
“The students really listen to him since he is a fellow student and most of them want to learn firsthand more about the war,” said Tangretti.
Also, the students had to fill out a 20-question quiz at the end of the program, covering what Morozewicz had demonstrated to them.
The son of Pat Heineman and stepson of John Hammer, Morozewicz said he plans to attend several World War II re-enactments this summer.
He said being a re-enactor not only helped him learn more about the history of the Civil War and World War II but also “made me more responsible in such areas as handling firearms and speaking before groups.”
Staff writer Bennie Scarton Jr. can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 125.