Sunday, June 12, 2011
On the Road Again
Belgium was a lovely place. The emotions we collectively shared in this country have transformed our group into a close knit family. However, our time in Belgium came to an end and today we left for Germany. Although we said goodbye with reluctance, there was also curiosity about the next part of our journey. Now, instead of being in familiar, liberated territory, we are traveling to where Hitler’s regime first came to power. Our tour is following the conquest of the British, French, and American armies into Germany after the Battle of the Bulge until the surrender of the Nazi powers, May of 1945.
On our way to Hannover, Germany, we stopped at the Henri Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial. There, over seven thousand American soldiers sleep in peace, the sea of white crosses speaking of the sacrifice that was given for our freedom. A wreath laying ceremony was held at the memorial accompanied by our national anthem and taps. We were able to visit three graves and honor those, known by members of our group, who paid the ultimate price. Most of us made a point of looking at the individual names engraved on each slab of marble, making the realization that each of these soldiers had loved ones and a life ahead of them. We left that peaceful place with renewed gratitude and the sobering reminder that freedom is not free.
Soon after our visit to the cemetery, we passed into Germany. During the next few days, we will discover how the consequences of war devastated this beautiful, pastoral countryside. Ray, our tour guide, gave us the history of Germany since World War II. We all realized very quickly that the German people are resilient, and we anticipate learning about the hope that was renewed in this place.
-Joanna Good and Arayna McElvain