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Friday, May 8, 2015

VE Day

Last night, we had an opportunity to attend a panel discussion at the National WWII Museum in remembrance of VE Day. The panel included our friend Dr. Huxen and Mary Jean and Susan Eisenhower, grandchildren of Dwight Eisenhower. The event was free and open to the public, and it was packed. The panel focused on Eisenhower's personal history - his upbringing, his education, and of course, his role as grandfather. Both women shared anecdotes and stories from their memories of Eisenhower, and as both women are accomplished speakers, diplomats, and businesswomen, the presentation was fascinating. It was over an hour long, but I felt like we had just touched the surface of who the man was. 

Susan Eisenhower told the story behind the picture featured on our program: a famous shot of the general speaking to a soldier, known to her as "number 23". Years later she met "number 23" and asked him what her grandfather had been saying so intently. The soldier shared that he was from Saginaw, Michigan, and they had been discussing the fishing in Saginaw! She related the story to Eisenhower's ability to know when to be a commander and when to be a friend.

Since Eisenhower was instrumental in recording the atrocities discovered at Nazi concentration camps Ohrdruf and Buchenwald, David and I thought it would be fitting to view some of the footage when we got home. There is a Frontline record, Memory of the Camps, that includes coverage of several camps at their liberation.
Let me just warn you. While I think it is important to remember what happened in Nazi Germany, and to know that it was not so far removed from present day, the footage is chilling. You cannot prepare yourself for the death and cheapness of human life portrayed. After the film, David and I silently went to bed, too shocked to even speak. It was a very tough thing to view, but I think it is necessary to prevent such evil from reoccurring.


  1. That sounds like an amazing event. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. That sounds like such a neat event. That Frontline sounds intense but I agree - it's important to watch things like that. WWII was really not THAT long ago in the grand scheme of things.... it's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that such awful things were done to human beings but it makes me wonder what cruelties future generations will talk about from this current day and time...

  3. When I get a moment I'll check out the Frontline footage that you've linked. The Holocaust has always held a macabre fascination to me - ever since I was a teenager. It just blows my mind that evil on this scale could be allowed to run rife without society stepping in to shut it down.

  4. I think you hit on it exactly, it literally wasn't that long ago. I seriously can't get my mind around genocide and how much of the world just sits back and accepts it. Granted, we can't always be the "world's police", but for example, as recently as 1994, over a million Rwandans were murdered, and much of the world did nothing about it ... mainly because there wasn't any oil in the region (in my opinion). The United States never seems to become too incredibly compassionate until our financial interest are at risk ... funny how that works. But I digress.

  5. What an awesome event to have gotten to attend! I couldn't agree with you more about the importance of learning and remembering (even when it is far beyond what is comfortable for us) the facts, the rawness, and the lessons of WWII.