Friday, October 8, 2010

October 8-“The Sacrifices of Love”


photos by alec vanderboom

The morning began with a foggy and overcast view of Bastogne, Belgium. We made our way to a small cathedral where there lay a monument commemorating the 101st and 501st Airborne. I watched anxiously as a local reenacting group of soldiers dressed as the Airborne saluted our five beloved veterans. As raw emotion reflected on their faces, I had to catch my own tears as I caught sight of their swimming eyes.

With each new site and cemetery, the past creeps back into their memories. “I don’t like to remember,” said veteran John Cipolla. But “some things are very hard to forget.” Among the many painful memories this journey has brought, laughter continues to be the love language of these great men. Without it, these two weeks could never have happened. “You are why we fought,” said veteran Alvin Henderson. “And you were worth it!” Today’s adventures included a trip to the Peace Woods, where a tree had been planted four years ago in honor of John Cipolla’s service during the Battle of the Bulge. We also spent time hunting for fox holes. Mr. Cipolla was actually able to find the place where his fox hole had been some sixty-six years ago during the battle. These and many more stops, although they will never replace the pain experienced here, are having a positive impact on men who had such a large impact on their country.

If it were not for the laughter of these five men this first week, it would be impossible to understand what really took place in these sacred places. Their willingness to relive the pain that they would rather forget, that took years to bury, so that I could better learn to love my country, is a sacrifice that will never be forgotten. It is not just their sacrifice now, but their laughter that I love.

Cherah Higgins


  1. We, Belgian people will never forget what those real heroes have done for us. 66 years ago, by their sacrifice, they gave us freedom and hope. It was an honor to share this trip with them, today in our country. It was also a pleasure to meet all the students of College of the Ozarks who are doing a great job, by keeping memory alive.

    God bless all of you.

    Jean-Marc Baret
    101st Airborne Belgian Friendly
    Re-enactment group

  2. Dear veterans , Students and teachers ,

    It was an honor for me to guide you wonderfull people around the historical battlefields of Bastogne .
    You all do a great job by preserving the legacy of the great generation by honoring all who fought for our freedom , those who came back and those who never returned .
    Keep up the good work and lest we forget !

    Blue skies

    Reg Jans

    Battlefield Guide

  3. It was a real honor to meet you all. I was stunned by the stories on Friday and Saturday. Just a few weeks ago I heard that just a few students are interested in the history of World War 2. The way you treat the veterans is really awesome and respectful. Thank you for having me oon your trip and enjoy your journey.

    Hang Tough!

    Frank Gubbels

  4. We spent a wonderfull day with you all and the veterans in Bastogne.
    It was for us a great opportunity to thank them for all what they did for our freedom.
    Thank you to the students for all love and respect you give to them, that's great !
    We hope you'll always remember these 2 weeks.
    As for me, I'll never forget these few hours spent with you all.

    God bless all of you

    Myriam Résimont