Friday, June 3, 2011

June 3, 2011

Here We Go
by Jonathan Wahl

As we traveled by tour bus to the Kansas City airport, I had the privilege of talking with veteran Bryan Sperry. Mr. Sperry began to tell us about his time in Belgium. He explained that one night while staying in a small Belgium town, the town crier walked through the town calling out to the villagers. As he cried out women began to come out of their houses carrying white sheets. The uniforms of the American troops caused them to stick out like a sore thumb in the snow. The Belgium people were giving away all their white bed sheets to serve as camouflage for the American troops.

It was at this time I remembered what a group effort WWII was. The victory of the Allied Forces was vitally important to the people of the world. Defeat was not an option. Without the sacrifices made by so many during the war our world would be a very different place. When you thank the veterans for their sacrifice they just shrug and say they did what they had to do. It is amazing to see such humility in the men who played an integral part in saving the world from the Nazi regime.

Our group flew into Paris, France, and today we took a tour of the city. As we toured the city our guide pointed out bullet holes still left in the buildings. For years German forces occupied major buildings in France. The bullet holes were created when the French were forced to fight the Germans to retake their own buildings. I can only imagine how demoralizing it must have been for the French to have Paris occupied by the Germans. Although these buildings have been remodeled since the war, the bullet holes were left as a way to remember what took place in Paris.

Paris was simply breathtaking. We were able to see the cathedral of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and many other well known sites. The city was full of life and activity. It was sobering to think that Hitler once ordered for the city of Paris to be destroyed if the Germans could not keep it.

While touring the city I was amazed to see how many monuments commemorated the American people. We saw statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. The people of France so respected these men that they even modeled their Republic after America’s democracy.

Tomorrow we will embark on our journey to Normandy. I am so excited to continue this trip with our veterans. These men have so much energy! What a delight it is to travel with such heroes and to have them share their stories with us. I owe each of these men so much. It was their sacrifice that allowed me to be raised in the America that I know.

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