May 22, 1995
The week that you turned eight years old, Grandpa Dee, Grandma
Barbara, Uncle Bruce and I were visiting France. On V-E Day, the
fiftieth anniversary of Victory in Europe, Grandpa Dee was in
a village in France called Offendorf, with three of his closest
buddies from World War II: Ted Shorty Simonson, Willie
Shurtleff and Joe Dorsey. They were treated like returning heroes,
often by people too young to have been alive fifty years ago.
It didn't seem to matter.
Everywhere we went in France people said our memories
are long. Every family has stories of what happened during
the War when the Nazis occupied France. This is not the stuff
of dusty old books. It's a living, breathing vital history which
is renewed by the telling, the hearing and the remembering. The
people rejoiced when the Allies arrived during 1945 and celebrated
that event again during 1995. Grandpa Dee and his comrades were
wined and dined, embraced and kissed, in fact, treated like royalty
with a sincerity which can only come from the heart. Uncle Bruce
and I were lucky enough to be able to be there to see.
In 1943, your Grandpa Dee was sent to war by his country.
His story is your history. That he lived instead of died while
others died instead of lived, was it lucky fortune...cosmic chance?
Red, white & blue true Loyal to the men of old, Shorty, Willie,
Joe, Dee... Near Unter Spiesheim, they line up at woods' edge,
at the Gasthof wall, the command post bunker, arms over the next
guy's shoulders, stronger linked by love now than war then. Delighted
to stop and sit, to eat, drink and talk in towns most have not
seen for half a century. But there are ghosts everywhere. Busy
noontime sunlit steets of Donauworth are full of tank, machine
gun and rifle fire, men bleed and die around each corner. The
only good German is a.... They can not shake these memories.
Soul comfort is the shared, present company of their fellows.
Today that is enough, tomorrow? We shall be obsolete.
Links to More about Travels with
Rainbow Division Veterans