Wednesday, October 6, 2010
October 6—"Real Heroes"
We awoke very early this morning. Still pitch black outside, we watched an episode of Band of Brothers which depicted the actions of the 101st and two of our veterans, Mr. Alvin Henderson and Mr. John Cipolla. We then returned to the Normandy coast and visited Pointe-du-Hoc, a strategic German stronghold atop the cliffs separating Omaha and Utah Beaches. The ground was pot-holed, the result of combined naval and aerial bombardment. Next we visited the actual spot where Mr. Henderson dropped on D-Day. It brought back many memories for him and along with it, wonderful stories for us to hear. Our next stop was Utah Beach which struck home because Mr. Cipolla landed just south of this area.
After lunch at the Roosevelt Café, which was built above a German bunker, we went to a thousand year-old church that was used as a field hospital during the Normandy campaign. One of the pews still had the blood stains from the D-Day wounded. The small local congregation recently installed several beautiful stained glass windows as a tribute to the 101st. Next we went to Sainte Marie-du-Mont where our veterans were made honorary citizens of the town by the Vice Mayor in a beautiful ceremony. We ended the day at Sainte Mere Eglise, a city portrayed in the movie, “The Longest Day,” where the 82nd Airborne parachuted into town, only to suffer horrendous casualties, including one whose chute snagged on the chapel tower. Mr. Cipolla helped liberate the town. It was awe-inspiring to hear him be able to point to the ground and say, “I remember fighting right here.”
At this point in our journey through Europe, all the veterans are really starting to open up to us. We’ve seen them laugh and we’ve seen some cry. It is life changing to hear about the sacrifices these men made for us. Seeing these important battle sites and national monuments with the men they honor will forever change your outlook on freedom and patriotism. These men are not movie stars, but they are the real heroes. They gave their todays so that we could have our tomorrows.
Jerica Gardner and Dwade Isringhausen