Johan and I traveled to the Dutch/German border near Aachen and spent a few days exploring WWII history and contemplating family history. I did a lot of writing on this trip. Musings. Questions. Concerns. Joyful things. All of this was captured in my journal.
One thing that keeps showing up the longer I am in Europe on this trip is that history keeps repeating itself. We are not doing enough to stop this.
War is a distraction. Conflict is a distraction. These things keep us from the more important things in this life and reality. Yet, we continue to create them on a daily basis.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
I'm guilty of this. Sometimes when things are going really well there is a part of me waiting for the other shoe to drop. I might unconsciously find one thing to nag my husband about and create a conflict - small or large. Over the last year I try to be more aware of this and clear whatever is causing it. Yet there are times when I fail.
What would change in our lives,...
In October, Johan and I visited Vogelsang, a former Nazi Training Facility and Tourist hot spot/wedding venue during the 1930s and early 1940s. Standing in this place now, looking out over the beautiful fall Eifel National Park, and knowing the history of this place, was hard to wrap my head around.
The National Socialist Documentation Center, which we visited and saw the exhibit, "The Master Race", offers these questions on their website:
After we viewed the exhibit and walked most of the complex, I had no answers to those questions. I only had more...
Saturday, 29 September 2018, I attended the unveiling of a new monument in the Netherlands honoring the crew of the Mission Belle B-17 bomber. I wrote two articles about the day's events, which you can read.
In this article I would like to share more of the healing and closure side of the day's events.
We often hear of people walking in their soldier's footsteps. That is a phrase I have used a lot since I walked in my cousin James Privoznik's footsteps in 2015. Colonel Fischer of the U.S. Air Force, who spoke at the commemoration of the Mission Belle, thanked the families for following the flight path of their family member. I love that phrase.
I attended the unveiling of the Mission Belle monument for several reasons.
In Germany the summer of 2018, I spent a day traveling with Doug Mitchell, who showed Johan and I the West Wall, Dragon's Teeth, bunkers, and memorials. We absorbed a lot of history that day.
We visited many WWII sites, some in which I could still feel the trauma, hear the whispers, feel the pain. And others, like the one in this video, where there was a sense of peace.
That peace was a bit in conflict with my head which knew a battle had raged in those woods and blood soaked the land. Sometimes standing in these sacred spaces is difficult for us to reconcile energy and mind.
Where have you stood in a military family member's footsteps that caused this reaction in you? How did you reconcile the energy and knowledge?
© 2018 Jennifer Holik
For more than a decade I have been researching all branches of the military in WWII. In 2015 I finally went to Europe to walk in the footsteps of my cousin James Privoznik, fly his final burial flag over the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Luxembourg Cemetery where he sleeps, and then walk in the woods here he was killed.
Earlier on that trip I visited my first ABMC cemetery at Normandy. Having extensively researched and read hundreds of Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF)s and the work of the Graves Registration Service, I thought I was prepared to stand in that sacred space.
All the research in the world, all the reading of books in the world, is not the same as standing where your family member fought, was wounded, or died. Nothing can compare or completely prepare you for that moment.
Have you traveled in Europe after doing the military research for your family? It isn't enough to look at your father's discharge paper and say, 'Oh he was in that unit.' Usually...