Normandy Institute: Sacrifice for Freedom – Day 10a – Monday, June 29

Day 10a- The First Eulogies
Audrey Calovich, Notre Dame de Sion, Missouri

There’s a lot to be said for today and everything that happened, but I’m going to say that it was fairly emotional and sobering in preparation for eulogy day. Going to the first cemetery was fascinating because you could still see a lot of the damage from the bombings over 70 years ago. Isaiah and Josh gave their presentations and we were able to wander around the graves and see both old and new headstones. We then went to visit a German cemetery, which was a very different, but equally beneficial experience. Upon arrival, many of us noticed that the names were not all German, and the ages were close to ours. This brought up different reactions and emotions.  Nicole was especially touched, looking at the decorated grave of a very young SS Nazi. As young, aspiring historians, the cemetery was note-worthy. It was light and lush with birds singing, but it was eerie and melancholy as well as beautiful. Sort of a dark beauty, or bittersweet if you will. But it was sobering and important to see, especially because we have been focused on sacrifice. We saw that our country was not the only one to make sacrifices. The men buried were sons, husbands, and brothers who all lost their lives for their country, whether they wanted to or not.

Midday, we went to a hedgerow in a meadow where we had our usual lunch (sandwiches- got to love ‘em) and received another presentation by Emma, which was cool to listen to and learn about just how thick hedgerows were, and how much of a threat they were to exploring troops during the war. We then went to a “Paratrooper Experience,” a simulator in which we got to see, hear, and feel what it was like for the 101st and 82nd Airborne in WWII to fly into a warzone-getting shot at and even crash landing, which many of us found enlightening. As well as the simulator, there was a museum afterwards, which had amazing recovered artifacts and photographs to view and read about. At the same museum, there was a plaque in honor of Mr. Norwood, a veteran of D-Day that Antonin introduced to us, and who told us aweing stories a week earlier. We thought it was awesome to see him, and Antonin’s research, recognized. Later, we went to a small church that was used as a makeshift hospital during the war and received a presentation from Lily about medics at this time. It was fascinating and we got to look inside. It was humble, but amazing. There were still bloodstains from injured soldiers on the pews and a stain glass window at the far end in dedication to the paratroopers that landed in Normandy. It was chilling to sit in that church with the same pews, walls, and floors that soldiers were surrounded by. One of the many experiences that brought our studies to life on the trip.

Day 10a


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