We Did It
After about six months of hard work and determination, we finally took the adventure we dreamed of. Ed and Mark finally had the opportunity to fly on back to Europe and see the lands that they helped liberate, and get to meet the multiple generations of people that are forever grateful for their sacrifice. Even as we traveled, I can remember one man in the airport dropping all of his things, washing his hands immediately and shaking Ed’s hand in thanks. People, who weren’t even European, would stop what they were doing to come up to Mark or Ed to give their thanks. After about six months of hard work and determination, it all became more than we first expected.
WHAT’D YOU DO?
After touching down in Paris, France, we spent a day together in a place most people would consider paradise. Glenn, Mark’s wife, was eager to see the famous Notre Dame, and we were eager to get down to the Champs-Élysées. As we traversed our way through the Paris streets, the veterans were being overwhelmed at the Notre Dame with thanks.
Following Paris, we drove on up to Bastogne, Belgium, to the Mardasson Memorial. However, we took a stop at a church that Mark remembers stopping at seventy years ago at Reims, which Glenn described as a “mini Notre Dame”. Mark reminisced of the day that he left his gun at the front of the church, following a nun’s order, and began to open up about his days passing through Reims and the surrounding area.
Eventually we found our way to Bastogne and the Mardasson, where some of our friends from Liege, Belgium met up with us. We did a small tour of the Mardasson Memorial, where Mark’s 75th Infantry was illustrated on one of the walls. After circling the memorial, we had a bit of a commemoration outside the museum, where Ed and Mark were recognized by members of the town council.
After an amazing afternoon in Belgium at the Mardasson and a night with our old pen pals, we drove on back to France where we would be staying the next four days in a small village called Amfreville. Now, as small a village is in Amfreville, the people and their compassion were larger than life. With the people coming together outside their church for probably the first time in their long history, the community welcomed us with open arms. The kids, their parents, and even complete strangers were eager to see the planes fly by and see the men jump. The few days that we did have in Amfreville were some of the best days of our lives.
We did, of course, have one big ceremony that I suppose we had to go to. The last official ceremony for D-Day was to take place on June 6th, where the presidents of both the United States and France would be making their presence known. Even with all the politicians and big name diplomats, Ed and Mark were quite the celebrities. People swarmed on them and asked them question after question, with Mark and Ed constantly looking back at us to thank us for getting them there in the first place. But, we all know that without these two old guys, most of these people may not even be here anyway to thank them.
THE SERVICE ASPECT
I’m pretty sure we served the veterans in any way that we could; we really didn’t want the veterans, or their family members, to feel at any way stressed out or burdened at any time during the trip. We helped them get from point A to point B, helped them understand their French menus, translated for them whenever someone wanted to thank them, and most importantly helped them understand just how important they are to the people of the world.
Was it stressful taking care of these two guys? Of course not. There may have been times of complete madness and despair, but you could have looked at the veterans and seen them joking and laughing with each other, and with their pure joy, stress was pretty much shrugged off. We all knew that every little thing was going to be alright, stress included or not. Seeing the veterans smile and laugh was all we needed to get through the day.
THANK YOU SO MUCH
This wouldn’t be at all possible if it weren’t for people donating and supporting us.
We can’t thank you all enough for giving us the opportunity to fulfill a longtime dream for two veterans, and for giving us the ride of a lifetime that certainly none of us will forget.
It may be a tad late, but you can still come and see us tomorrow at the Seymour Center from 5-7:30 PM. Appetizers will be served, and afterwards we will be giving a presentation where hopefully some questions will be answered