Hello from the beautiful French countryside, it is strange to think that almost 100 years ago the First World War had desecrated the landscape that now seems so serene,and that just 70 years ago the same land was in the throes of the Second World War. You can read about it in a text book and look at photographs but it becomes very real when you physically see the grave site of an ancestor that served, when you are inside of a german built bunker or walking through a trench dug by Canadians. It is especially poignant that one is able to pull shell fragments, bullets and grenades from the soil in which corn and canola now grow.
Today we visited La Coupole which is a German built bunker from the Second World War, it is now a museum located in Northern France. It was intended as a site from which to launch V2 rockets into England, however rocket launching from the site never came to full fruition before the end of the war. It is interesting that the museum advertises it as “the outcome of the Second World War could have been decided here.” We were talking today and we determined that this would not have been much of a game changer had it been fully operational because the payloads it would have delivered were similar to those delivered by bomber command, and strategic bombing has been proven to have been rather ineffective. The technology simply did not exist for bombing to have been accurate enough for the ends to justify the means.
In this museum there was a large portion dedicated to the French resistance as well as the victims of the Holocaust which we have not seen in any museums thus far. We wear poppies on remembrance day to commemorate and acknowledge the sacrifice made by our soldiers, and we often discuss the importance of remembrance so I would like to draw attention to an interesting project done by some middle school students in Whitwell Tennessee. In 1998 teachers in Whitwell were trying to teach their students about the Holocaust, its magnitude, and its devastation. They discovered that the paper clip was invented in Norway, and that During World War II, the Norwegians had worn paper clips on their clothes to demonstrate their opposition to Nazism and anti-Semitism. The teachers and students decided to start the Paper Clips Project, asking for donations of paper clips in order to collect six million, each one representing a victim of the Holocaust. The six million paper clips were sent to the students with accompanying letters, many of which recounted the stories of loved ones lost during the Holocaust. The children used the paperclips to build a memorial and in the process learned about racism, diversity, tolerance, and freedom. Education as such is what makes a difference in the world, and in the spirit of “educate, commemorate, remember” I would encourage people to watch the documentary “Paper Clips” in order to learn more about the Holocaust and the goals of the Paper Clip Project. Even something as simple as a paper clip can turn into a symbol of education and remembrance.