Singing like a caged bird

Friday, November 05, 2004

canteen singers III

A Final Reunion....

In 1943, the US Army created several Parachute Infantry Regiments. One of these was made famous by the book and HBO series entitled "A Band of Brothers". Another such unit was the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. This band of brothers trained together, and fought and suffered and died in Normandy, Holland, Belgium and Germany. For the past 30 years they have held an annual reunion. This past October, they held their "final" reunion as they are all in their 80's and 90's. I heard of this reunion while in Normandy for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Members of the 508th and their families were insistent that I must attend this final reunion. They knew I was seeking information about my dad's experiences during the war and they were sure I would meet some of his comrades who could tell me about those days that Dad hardly ever mentioned. See July 10 post

The four-day reunion was a wonderful experience. Emotions were at a high level throughout the events. Spouses, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren accompanied the veterans.

There were representatives of current paratroopers, and of the Mayors of Ste. Mere Eglise, and several other Norman villages. There were old photos and even some rare film footage that everyone was exchanging and sharing. But most of all there were memories…both good and bad. Thoughts of the veterans often drifted off to comrades that were left in European soil for eternity. These men were indeed the greatest of the greatest generation. One must read of the horror and bravery they witnessed and exhibited to truly understand their greatness. A good book to read is "Beyond Valor", the author, Patrick K. O'Donnell was also in attendance at the event.

There was a ceremony in which the Regimental Colors were retired, putting to rest the history of this famed unit. What these brave men endured should never be forgotten. And the horrors of war never forgotten, as to a man these who lived through it tell all who will listen that "war is hell". My dad always made sure that this was know to me, although he never gave any details as to what he had witnessed and endured.

One night was a dinner dance. The room was decked out like a 1940's "Canteen" complete with a 40's swing band and swing dancers from the University of Florida Dance club. Some of the old folks really got into the fun times and memories of those years. All I could keep thinking of was the fun my mom and dad must have been enjoying before Pearl Harbor. My Dad always liked Benny Goodman's music. I could just picture them out on the dance floor. It brought the tears and emotions right out. Especially since after the war, my Dad and mom hardly enjoyed such times again.

canteen singers III, originally uploaded by iceemaster.

Harry dancing on stage, originally uploaded by iceemaster.

canteen performers, originally uploaded by iceemaster.

40's swing dancers II, originally uploaded by iceemaster.

There were any friends made at this reunion, many stories told and heard, and some toasts of Calvados to comrades present and those who were not here but not forgotten.


Post a Comment

<< Home