Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Reflections Eight Months Later...

It's been eight months since we made the trek through the cold to reenact our fathers' footsteps as they were force-marched 60+ miles from Stalag Luft III to Spremberg, Germany, during the bitterly cold winter of 1945. I'm wondering what my new-found friends are doing now - how did the trip impact their lives and what they have pursued since? I know that I, for one, am well aware of the brevity of time I have left with my father, who is now 91 years old. He has published his memoirs and I greatly value the time we spent together gathering the illustrations for the book. I'm more aware, too, of the current conflicts we're involved in as a nation, and am more grateful for the sacrifices that have been, and are being made to protect our precious liberties. I also have a better appreciation for what my father went through so many years ago and why he cares so deeply about the things that are important to him.

Where are my Kriegie Kid friends now, and how are they feeling about our challenging and emotional experience? I'm encouraging them to post a reflective comment on how the trip has impacted their lives and their thinking about what their fathers (and Val's uncle and George's friends) endured ...

6 comments:

Marilyn said...

Miriam,

Hard to believe that eight months have passed since our trek. Since that time, I often am reminded of things that stood out in my mind...hearing the gunfire from the Polish military as we walked along was oddly reminiscient of our fathers' experience on that road hearing the boom of Russian guns in the distance. Being the first Americans to ever set foot in that second Polish school we visited will long be remembered. The Polish shopowner giving us all a package of tissues as a "thank you" for what our fathers did so long ago still touches me deeply. To think the Poles in the area named a school in honor of the POWs was very gratifying to see.

After reading so many accounts from so many different sources that recounted South Compound's taking a wrong turn and then having our group do the same thing in the very same place brought the experience even closer to me. We did just what they did! We knew the meaning of "back-track" just as they had learned it, but fortunately, we did not have the harsh weather they had to do it in.

I look back on our pictures, and I have so many favorites. Ours was a journey of discovery whether it was understanding the true significance of what our fathers did, or the meeting of the Polish school children who did not quite know what to make of us, or seeing the huge stork nests in Poland, or gazing in horror upon that darned ice-cold, supposedly-fried fish I ordered in Poland that had the mournful eyes staring back at me---it was all pretty powerful on a human scale. The mix of cultures is always of interest and seeing what years of Communist rule did to Poland and eastern Germany was an eye opener.

I still marvel that most of our group had not met before, yet we sure bonded quickly, all with the same heart-felt reason for being there. Many of us have kept in touch now that we are back, and we still trade lots of infomation back and forth.

I don't think any of us will ever take another "vacation" like this. There is just nothing we will ever be able to compare it to. For me, it was completing a circle--going back to experience what my dad had always talked about. And having walked in his footsteps makes me feel even closer to him. That first night we stopped exactly where they did at the autobahn overpass, and we had some pretty pink cheeks from the cold as we concluded that segment around 2 a.m. I could not help but think of how our POWs had to go on from that area, and we got to stop for the night.

I think we are all richer for our trip and for knowing each other. Money can't buy such things. No matter how old we get, we will all remain "Kriegie Kids."

BetweenTheClouds (Miriam) said...

Your reflection is beautiful, Marilyn - it expresses so much of what I, too, feel. Thank you for sharing, and I agree - I will always be a "Kriegie Kid!" :o)

Cioara Andrei said...

Foarte interesant subiectul postat de tine. M-am uitat pe blogul tau si imi place ce am vazut.Cu siguranta am sa il mai vizitez.
O zi buna!

BetweenTheClouds (Miriam) said...

Translation of Cioara Andrei's Romanian post: "Very interesting topic posted by you. I checked your blog and I like what I saw. Surely I will visit in May. Good day!"

Cheryl said...

This if fabulous! My Grandfather was a part of this trek! I am planning a trip this Spring and following his trek from being shot down in the english channel through to Mooseburg. The information you have on here is so helpful. I would love to speak with you further. Could you please contact me?! Look forward to learning more about your experience.

Gerald Robichaud said...

This coming January, being the 70th anniversary of the winter march from Stalag Luft III has got me interested in walking the route my father took in 1945. It seems many other Kriegie Kids have already done this and I'd like to know if a group is planning to return in 2015. I'd like to "hardass it" as much like the original kriegies did it and would appreciate as much info on how to get started and perhaps join a group. Thanks! Gerald Robichaud jrobigolf46@gmail.com