Our brother Matthew was our chauffeur, as Annie tried to cheer me up about my hair not having time to be pinned up properly--I had videos on WWII hairstyles that I hadn't had time to watch. I did my best as we bumped along the roads.
|Me with a vintage roadster|
Life is never perfect, and I soon forgot all the little things as we entered the Linden event, remembering the big things that happened in time past. Men and women lost their lives in concentration camps, men fought for freedom from oppression. The spotlight was not on me.
|Some of the audience|
We heard the first speaker, Arthur Pais, from a ways back at first, as we sat on the side, hardly able to concentrate on his speaking. Eventually we moved up, and saw his grave face as he spoke about being separated from his family as they went to work camps (or death camps)--never seeing his mother again. His humor was not extinguished during the talk, however, or his grace and humility.
As it was nearing noon, we decided to head to the car and eat our packed lunch--an assortment of chicken salad sandwiches, apples, ginger snaps, and chocolate-covered pretzels. It was nice to relax in our van as we ate and sipped water or iced tea.
The streets and sidewalks were bustling, with vintage vehicles, clanging fire-engines, troops, and onlookers in everyday clothes.
Annie and I split up from Matthew, so we could each listen to a different speaker. We wanted to hear Norman Weber, an American boy who lived in Germany and even joined the Nazi Youth. The walk was longer than I expected, and my previously untested high heels began to dig into my feet and rub blisters into them. But it was worth the walk. Near the speaking site, we saw rows of tents.
|A soldier in camp|
He recounted his story clearly, and an interesting story it was. It felt normal for him to join the Nazi Youth at the time, not knowing all the atrocities to come. He was saved from harm through this, and never questioned as to his birthplace, since he looked like the ideal German--tall, erect, blond-haired and blue-eyed. But what was going to happen when the Americans came and won the city?
After his talk, I walked over to meet him and get his autograph. He was happy to oblige.
I pointed out the vintage vehicles and people getting rides, and asked Annie if we could try to get a ride in one. It would save us another walk, too. The back of the jeep we chose was so high that I didn't think I could step up onto it. They pulled out part of the seat in the front so I could get by that, and we got up and onto a bench seat in the back. Two young friends from church joined us, one of them crouching and holding onto the front seat. Then three modern-day marines (I think) hopped on the back, as well, making for a pretty crowded ride down the street. I was near the front, with open air to my left. It felt rather nice to be riding along with wind in my hair. Matthew, unbeknownst to us (and he didn't know we were riding, either), took a photo of us as we rode. The marines wanted to get off near the stop-light, and Annie and I got off there, too, as did our friends.
|Mr. Courter interviewing twin veterans|
At 4:00, there was a battle reenactment, which began peacefully, with women walking the streets, sitting at the Cafe, and having their identification cards checked.
Then shots rang out, and the street was filled with the fake but effective blasts for many long minutes. I plugged an ear at times, and wished for it to stop. . . . How much more the soldiers of WWII must have wished this, as not just the noise jarred their ears, but comrades fell around them, the bloodied, moaning, and dead.
|The Seargeants and Sierra|
|Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez|
We had to walk back to the encampment area to eat our supper (we'd purchased tickets upon arriving that morning), and I could barely stand the walk. Next time maybe I'll be smart and wear flats!
The tables were decorated, with charming lights strung overhead. A band played to one side ("Merchants of COOL"), lilting and jazzy. We got in line and got our meal of fried chicken, coleslaw, baked beans, and dinner roll. We picked up a bottle of water or soda and a root-beer float, where I saw some other friends.
At our table, David Noor met the three of us for the first time, and sat down to eat with us, with our permission. So we enjoyed chatting with him about various things. A friend of his joined us for a bit, too.
|After the meal|
|Lacie Bowman singing|
|Steven Bowman reciting Winston Churchill's speech|
|Many of the places in town also appeared to be back in time.|
|Annie and me posing for a shot|
|The night ended in fireworks, which we watched after walking halfway back to our van.|