Tuesday, November 6, 2007

World War II Day

My friend, Kandi, organized a World War II conference for Homeschoolers yesterday. It was so good! Three gentlemen spoke in the morning session. Two were infantrymen and one Medic. I loved hearing their personal stories.
My favorite got off to a slow start, he blamed it on his postnasal drip, but when he got to talking he was so interesting! He shared about building an underground log cabin. He was told that he could not build one above ground because either the Germans would see it or the officers would steal it. So, he and his buddies used their little shovels and dug out a 12 by 16 foot hole and laid a wood floor. They cut logs and made walls then used canvas for a roof, covered with dirt and then snow so that the German search planes could not see it and the officers would not know it was there. They built bunks into it and then needed a door. He laughed so genuinely as he said that they snuck behind enemy lines and stole one. Then laughed harder when he told about getting a woodstove the same way. You could just imagine these young guys having the "adventure" of their lives. The guys would take turns having one in the fox hole and the rest in the cabin until either Germans or Officers would appear. They had rigged up a communication system and all of the rest would pour out of the cabin and into the fox holes as if they had always been there. Three days after the cabin was completed, Dr. Victor was transferred to another unit!!!! Can you believe it!
He also told us about "liberating" three cows. He chuckled as he said that it wasn't just the French they liberated. One of the cows became food on a rare day off. He said they ate beef all of that day until they couldn't eat it anymore. Warm food, let alone, meat was a very rare treat. That evening for some unknown reason that group was treated to a warm steak dinner by their commanders. They couldn't eat a bite! They were so stuffed from that day's enjoyment.

The afternoon session was very good, also. There was a gentleman from the Tuskegee Airmen speaking. He did a very good job of explaining the racial climate of the time and showing the radical determination and dream of the very first black pilot. He talked about the "Red Tails" and how they were the most requested of the planes to protect the bombers. It was great to hear these words from the men "in the know!" This man, Dr. Richardson, graduated from the Tuskegee Air School just in time for the war to be over. He figures Hitler heard he was coming. lol
There was a lot of technical information for those who are into such things. It was a good day for all. We took Warren's Grandfather's Navy uniform and dog tags along for others to see. Kandi had her granfather's WWII era gun.
Living history...ahhhh. The sad thing is that WWII vets are dying at a rate of 1,000 per day. We are losing this important source of information. So often, we think we know what happened because of movies or TV but some is misinformation. I hope that if you get a chance to speak with a vet of this time period that you will soak in all that they are willing to share. I know some won't share. The memories are just too painful. After many times of sharing their stories these men still choked up on some things.

One of the infantrymen holding a natzi flag taken from a fort. He was getting help folding it up and mentioned that it is definitely not given the respect of the American Flags folding. He said, "We just kind of bunch it up". It gives me weird feelings just to see this flag and know all that it represents.
This gentleman shared that he and his wife were in the Holocaust Museum in DC and stepped of the elevator on the top floor (where you are to begin your tour) when both of them stopped dead in their tracks. On the wall in front of them was a huge mural picture of soldiers looking at corpses at one of the death camps. On that mural was his brother, who was one of the first into the death camps. What an amazing experience. The museum had not identified that soldier so they now know, but the brother is so unwilling to talk about it that he will not officially confirm it with the museum. When shown the picture, though, he correctly identified, by name, the man standing next to him as his buddy. WOW! When he went to Europe later and they arrived at that camp this man remained on the bus. The memories were just too horrible for him to face again. So, we must be sensitive. These men have faced things we cannot even imagine!

If you have read this far, thank you!
Blessings on your day!


Mrs. Rabe said...

Sounds like that was a neat event! We had a rare at home day! I felt like we got school work accomplished well yesterday!

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting Becky. I like hearing stories from the ones who experienced it. Great stories.

I know two of my children experienced a Holocaust Survivor coming in to their class at school to share their story. That would be an interesting follow-up to your WWII Day. Also, my daughter had a Japanese man who was in an Internment Camp here in California share in her class also. Manzanar I believe it was. Some out there are willing to have someone listen to their stories.

As for the DC Museum, after awhile I had enough. I couldn't look anymore. And to have people say it didn't happen?? What planet are they from. I have seen my Uncle's pictures, Hello!!!

Nunnie's Attic said...

When I went to school "The Diary of Anne Frank" was required reading. But not today. Have we moved on so much as not to appreciate this piece of literature? That's a shame. Thank you for sharing this story.

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