Michael's Dispatches

122 Comments

 

In the station were European veterans in old uniforms catching trains to who knows where.

Eindhoven was about an hour away.  Along the way it occurred to me that Maggie and the other veterans had jumped nearly this exact time, and maybe the corn was just like this in September 1944.  Maybe they had fought through this corn as is happening now in Afghanistan.

Eindhoven.

But where is the hotel?  Everywhere were veterans and re-enactors or active duty American soldiers.  Some Dutch re-enactors showed the direction to the hotel.

That evening, a big parade was brewing and more veterans were arriving.

Thousands of people were assembling near Eindhoven City Hall.

The veterans took VIP seating while crowds had to stand for hours.

General Petraeus arrived and said hello to each veteran, some of whom shook his hand while others saluted.  If General Petraeus had any idea of the hectic schedule that was still unfolding, he’d probably have wanted to get straight back into the war.  It seemed like everyone in Holland wanted to see the vets, and despite that the old soldiers were in their eighties and nineties, they kept going and going.

There must have been hundreds of vehicles in the parade.

And there on one of the military vehicles was Guadelupe with a big bandage wrapped around his head, like he’d been shaved too close by a bullet.  Most people probably thought he was just role-playing with all that gauze.  As it happened, the Market Garden Committee was keeping an angel eye on the veterans and took Guadelupe to the hospital but there was a crowd in the emergency room.  (How could there be a crowd in Eindhoven?  Bicycle pileup?)  But when the doctors realized Guadelupe was a veteran who liberated Eindhoven, they made Guadelupe the number one priority and he was first to be helped.  By the time Guadelupe got his head wrapped like a mummy, the parade was started and it was hard to get through town.  Some re-enactors saw Guadelupe and loaded him into a jeep and that’s where I saw him, rolling in the parade with that bandage.

So when Guadelupe got in front of General Petraeus and the Mayor, they stopped the parade and came down to check him out!  Guadelupe had a huge grin on his face, which unfortunately the lens didn’t catch.

The parade kept going, on and on.

Streets full of people.

Some Scots arrived and so this is some gratuitous advertising for RAFHALTON.com.

It kept going…

Veterans of the 82nd and 101st whose forerunners had helped liberate the land.

Never forget the Red Cross.

A big screen for those who could not see up close.

Are you tired yet?

Then came the kids bearing fire.

That’s Ralph Manley holding the torch.  Ralph was constantly on the radar screen.  Ralph was like Maggie; if he was talking, people listened.  He’s one of those men who once you meet him, you know you will never forget him.  Within the first minute Ralph had handed me an Eisenhower silver dollar and proceeded with what obviously was an oft-told story about meeting General Eisenhower.  There was something magic about Ralph.  When Ralph was eighty-two, another vet said, he had danced three women into the ground during a remembrance.  And so there he is up front and he’d somehow gotten hold of a torch.

It seemed like a matter of time until someone was set ablaze.

Dutch Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts marched by.

The parade finally ended.  It seemed to last all night but probably was only a couple hours, depending on when you started and stopped the clock.

Turns out, Ralph was carrying the torch to light the eternal flame.

Moments of silence under the glow of the flame.  Over the days, Ralph always radiated a powerful ambience when he saluted the flag or sang the National Anthem.

More honors are rendered.

These signs were all around, thanking the British and American soldiers.

After an exhausting day, some of the eighty- and ninety-plus-year-old veterans actually went out for a beer, while people danced in the streets to the Scottish bagpipes.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mark · 12 years ago
    Michael - Thanks for the superb piece - it seemed like I was there.
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    Scott from TX · 12 years ago
    i always get sucked in to the photos and story that you put together. nothing like the adrenaline rush of being a westerner driving through Kandahar with a Corolla on the loose.
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    Johnathan Crawford · 12 years ago
    Thanks Michael,

    What a pleasant surprise this essay was. Your pictures are worth 1,000 words!
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    JC · 12 years ago
    Great report, not too far from the bridge this time then. I am following you on twitter too. We need people like you reporting from the heart of things, even if maybe you get too close but that compensate from those who do it from the terrace of the Hilton and you know what I mean.
    Take care.
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    Austen · 12 years ago
    Brilliant - keep up the excellent work.
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    Salgofnir · 12 years ago
    Another good report. Stay safe.
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    Joseph Bays ICCSSS, · 12 years ago
    A great picture story. I never knew the Dutch remembered, although some of Europe seems to have forgotten.
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    Nathaniel · 12 years ago
    great pics as always!!
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    Eddy · 12 years ago
    Thanks Michael, this was a great dispatch, and in no way too long. I appreciate you taking the time to detail all the cereomonies and events, it's hard to imagine us here in the United States putting up so much effort to honor our vets, much less those of another country. A grim reminder of how much we take for granted. And please stay safe in Afghanistan, the start of your dispatch scared the crap out of me, I don't know how I'd get my frontline news without you.
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    Robin · 12 years ago
    Whoa! It's really almost creepy, you were all over the place. In fact, you went to the place where I live and even the school I go to. Crazy!

    As always, you take pretty awesome photos.
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    Pat · 12 years ago
    Thank you sir for what you are doing. Bringing to our homes what really happens out there and giving us the chance to see pictures and realize there are many out there who do appreciate our military and what America has done and continues to do in spreading freedom. Seeing the pictures of all the vets reminds me of my neighbor who was in the Air Force in both WWII and Korea. I always enjoy having conversations with him. I can only imagine how you felt being surrounded by all those incredible veterans and hearing their stories. It was also great that you got some pics of soldiers who were able to make it to the ceremonies as well. Keep up the great work sir!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Allen · 12 years ago
    Michael -

    Great, great, great dispatch. You're work is so refreshing. I get emotional just reading and remembering these vets.

    ~Allen
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    JJT · 12 years ago
    Thank you for an excellent piece.
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    Kevin · 12 years ago
    Outstanding work as usual, Michael!
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    Vincent · 12 years ago
    I have been "with you" since day one. I don't know what drives you but you are one brave, necessary reporter. Simply calling you a reporter seems so inadequate in the face of a monumental failure of war news dissemination by almost all News agencies. Stay well, Michael. We need you!
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    Matthew · 12 years ago
    Thank you Michael! You always seem to make it to the most interesting places! I must make it to a Market-Garden event one day, before all of our old warriors are gone.
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    winston · 12 years ago
    Excellent reporting. Beautiful photos... Good job!
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    CJ · 12 years ago
    We can never forget, then as now, the incredible sacrifices of our armed men and women.

    God Bless them all, and thank you Michael for taking us along for the ride.
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    Kiwi Chris · 12 years ago
    Thank you for this fantastic article - we never had coverage of this national tribute down here - What a fantastic honour for these fantastic soldiers.
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    Lance McMillan · 12 years ago
    Nice bit of reporting. Thanks.

    Was a bit disappointed that there were so few indications of any recognition of the Polish commitment to Market-Garden (or to Afghanistan for that matter). Sosabowski's parachute brigade was dropped near Arnhem in an effort to help relieve the pressure on the British 1st Airborne and was decimated in the ensuing fighting, and yet I only saw one Polish flag in any of the many shots you took of the various memorials -- it's kind of sad how the service of the Polish exile troops is so consistently overlooked.
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    Scott Dudley · 12 years ago
    In 2000, I had the honor of visiting the American Cemetary there. It was on a weekday and I was surprised at the number of Dutch also visiting. They, perhaps more than any other Europeans, respect and appreciate the sacrifices our vets made. At dusk, there was a ceremonial lowering of our flag and as my friend, an Air Force officer and I stood at attention, so did all the Dutch visitors. An amazing sight. I love the Dutch.
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    Tom Reynolds · 12 years ago
    Beautiful!
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    Jim Delaney · 12 years ago
    Splendid presentation again, Michael. Gen. P continues to bowl me over with his intellect, calm and integrity.

    Glad you're trekking into the Himalayas during your break in Nepal. You won't regret it. I and a buddy trekked to Mt. Kalipatar, overlooking Everest base camp, about 25 years ago. What a truly awesome experience. Standing alone atop Kalipatar and gazing into the daylight's black sky, only then did I realize how truly insignificant we each of us is in the universal scheme of things. At that moment I fully understood the meaning of "the silence was defeaning". Not a sound at all. Had never understood that phrase before. Utterly alone, just me, my friend and an overwhelming, almost menacing, eternity before us. It really put things into perspective for me. It was a very humbling and mind-jarring experience which will always be part of me.
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    Dr. Kenneth Noisewat · 12 years ago
    Y'all probably know this already, but just in case..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_Heart_Lane
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    David Paul · 12 years ago
    The goose bumps registered the quality of the report.
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    wf · 12 years ago
    Wonderful dispatch Michael, thank you! It seems that Dutch children are well aware of this time in history, as they should. Why are our children not being taught any of this? We have veterans (from WWII to the present) in every city of the US and I would be willing to bet that not five of them have been asked by any school to talk to our children about what they did. We are missing the chance to show our children what honor and duty look like in person.
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    Tim · 12 years ago
    America has always been full of hero's willing to give for the greater good, to protect the weak or needy.
    A wonderful group of hero's along with some Dutch hero's as well.
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    Alastair · 12 years ago
    Michael. That was a superb article which I didn't pick up on the British media really covering. Stay safe on returning to Afghan
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    Robert · 12 years ago
    Are so very awesome for remembering the troops that way! Would love it if more in our country understood that. When I was scanning the article I seen where some of the Dutch soldiers want to get back in the fight, I commend them for that. I wish I could go over there and serve as a soldier. However because of a mistake I made when I was younger I am not allowed to serve. So I am working on getting job that will put me there so I can serve that way!
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    Julie Harris · 12 years ago
    Wonderful piece Michael - it brought tears to my eyes. Keep up the good work! Will be praying for your safety. Sincerely and with gratitude, Julie Harris
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    BravoBilly · 12 years ago
    I am rd Army brat and a Veteran, too. So when I saw all those veterans, I became proud. Thanks Michael...You are Florida at its finest.
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    Sandy · 12 years ago
    Michael....you've got a gift for really transporting us along with you...thanks.
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    Randall Hannaway · 12 years ago
    Michael,

    Thank you for covering this event, truly, thank you. It was the next best thing to being there. These men gave so much, it's vital that what they did during those grave days never be forgotten. I can't imagine the emotions that you must have felt being able to share in such a historical event. We are grateful for all of your efforts both the more enjoyable stories like this one and of course the more difficult war coverage. Keep your head down and be well.

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    Papajimm · 12 years ago
    I have been so pummeled with anti American bashing/demonstrations around the world that this accounting is hard to wrap my emotions around. Do you thing the Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, et. al will every be grateful for the lives and ultimate sacrifices being made to secure their democracy and resulting freedoms? Unlikely. Not the way they roll. Stay safe Michael.
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    Gordon Duff · 12 years ago
    Great photos, great story and a great group of guys being honored.
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    Sara Johnson · 12 years ago
    There is nowhere else I have heard nor read of this event. This post is remarkable and I'll send link to all who care so deeply of our country, its defenders and the veteran liberators for freedom. God Bless You. Keep this up. Extraordinary dispatch. Thank you.
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    David L. · 12 years ago
    My wife's father was Dutch. He worked for Shell in Java and went back into the army as a private as soon as the Japanese attacked. He was captured by the Japanese in Java in 1942, imprisoned there for several months and then sent to Japan by Hell Ship, where he remained imprisoned until the end of the war. He is dead now but a few years ago my wife and I visited some of his and her relatives in Holland. The only place they really insisted that we go was the battleground for Market Garden. A few of my wife's relatives had been children or even young women during WW II. The gratitude and respect for what was done to liberate them was deep and heartfelt. Yet all of her Dutch relatives--completely without exception--could not fathom why our country chose to fight in Iraq. Afghanistan was never mentioned. It was eclipsed by Iraq at the time.

    Thank you for your great reporting.
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    Jarold · 12 years ago
    Whenever I meet someone who is interested in the fight, I tell them of you and your website. Thanks for all you do, and thanks to all our vets, US, Brits, Dutch, and all others on our side. We are in this together. Mike, you get the real truth out. God Bless and Protect You.
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    Alan Johnson · 12 years ago
    Michael,
    As always thanks for the dispatch, and the update and pictures on the memorial services, I wish that people would realize that some people do remember the sacrifice that was made and is being made. Keep up the good work and enjoy the fresh air break.
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    C. Renee Daigle · 12 years ago
    Thank you, Michael, for all that you do to keep us here at home informed.
    This post is wonderful. I was enrapt with the Dutch treatment of our veterans. They deserve all of it and more.
    Thanks again, God speed, and keep safe. You and all of our troops are in my prayers.
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    Karl Crankshaw · 12 years ago
    Michael,

    Excellent report and pictures, Words cannot express how moved I was at the courage of the Airborne Vets and the way the Dutch people remember and honour the sacrifices that were and continue to be made for freedom.
    Stay Safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thomas · 12 years ago
    But I will hit the tip jar first.
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    Dennis Graham · 12 years ago
    Thank you Michael,
    Praise the Lord for the continueing gratitude of the Dutch people,even after all these years. Please stay safe. You are in my prayers.
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    Philip Lewis · 12 years ago
    I'm not sure what struck me more..the vitality of the WWII veterans, the obvious affection and gratitude of the Dutch for their liberation, the odd contrast of the cornfields of Afghanistan with those of Eindhoven, the strong commitment of the Dutch to supporting foreign policy goals. Really a fine dispatch. You have a tremendous gift, both as a photographer and as a writer. Thank you.
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    Jim S · 12 years ago
    Thank You.
    It was nice to read a story about Love for our Military.
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    MikeB · 12 years ago
    Amazing post, thank you.
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    Hester · 12 years ago
    Great dispatch! I just wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to thank the Dutch for this wonderful remembrance. It is so heartening to know there are people who have not forgotten the sacrifices of the allied soldiers.
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    crosspatch · 12 years ago
    I don't know if they still do it but when I served in Europe in the late 1970's there was an annual 100 mile march that was sort of a remembrance of Market-Garden. I attended in 1978. The people were absolutely wonderful and it is an experience I will never forget. Sometimes I really miss that part of the world.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lorenzo from Oz · 12 years ago
    Both moving and informative, thank you
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    Colin Perry · 12 years ago
    It has all been said above. Brilliant....

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