Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 9 - Continuing Sacrifice

"Jorgy" stands in the nursing wing of the Malinta tunnel where he was operated on during the war.

Sarah, Mr. Collier, and Brandon stand in Battery Cheney where Jim fought during the Japanese attack on Corregidor.

Christianne and Maria enjoy their ride back to Manila.

Our view of Manila from the boat.

Larry, Mr. Nelson, and Katie.

It is hard to imagine that anyone could leave an experience like this unchanged. Before we came here, we had no idea what to expect from our veterans, the Philippines, or ourselves.  The unknown added to the value of our experience because everything was a “first”. It was all up to us what we made of it. Now, as our adventure is coming to a close, we’re left with the question of what to do now. How can a person who has had access to a world where freedom comes with a price and sacrifices are commonly made, bring to a culture that takes much for granted?

We are now different.  We are now changed. 

We now know the driving force behind the patriotic travel program. It became evident to us when we would go to monuments and discover that even the people living nearby were not aware of what happened to preserve their freedom on that hallowed ground. In a way, we too were ignorant, but having been with those who have witnessed history, we have been given new insight and knowledge. Hearing their personal stories were much more meaningful and memorable than anything we could’ve ever learned out of a textbook. Stories like how our soldiers lost 50 to 60 pounds during their imprisonment made this part of history more real for us. Ten days was not enough to fully understand the valor that these men portrayed.

However during those ten days, we have gotten to know our veterans, our colleagues, and ourselves.
Going to a small college, we knew of all the students who attended this trip and now because of the experiences we’ve shared, we are a tight-knit community. In this community, the veterans have taken on a very special place as dear friends and honorary grandfathers.
Even though we had never met these veterans before, they too have been affected by this trip.   
They repeatedly told us how pleased they were with students who were willing to hear their stories and also possessed the desire to be patriotic. They were excited to know that we will be passing their stories on to future generations. We will never forget the night a few of the veterans joined us for karaoke on the beach of Corregidor. It was awe-inspiring for us to see them have so much fun in a place that once caused them so much pain.                                                     

Though we soon will part ways, the experiences we have witnessed these past ten days have been seared into our memory. The soldiers, battlefields, and stories are now a part of us. It is our duty to keep the memory of their sacrifices alive. As we leave and go back to class, work, and the rest of our lives, we walk a little prouder and stand a little taller because we know what has been paid for our freedom. It is because of the sweat, fear, blood, and devotion of Ed Knight, Jim Collier, Warren Jorgenson, Lawrence Nelson, Wayne Carringer, and Bob Ehrhart that we are free. So in gratitude to their sacrifices that are now alive in our memory, we willingly accept the call to pass on their legacy to the generations to come.

John Paul Mathews and Maria Williams


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