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We cowered at the deafening sound of crippled airplanes
and metal fragments crashing to earth.

My Mother, five brothers, sister, and I clung to each other as we huddled under the kitchen table. We listened in deathly fear as Allied Spitfire and German Messerschmitt airplanes engaged in vicious dogfights directly above our house.

We heard the whine of the planes’ engines. We cowered at the deafening sound of crippled airplanes and metal fragments crashing to earth. After a five-minute barrage there was an eerie silence—but only for a moment.

Suddenly one of many splinter bombs exploded nearby. Metal fragments cut through the red brick walls of our home and whizzed by our heads. The windows blew out all at once, and fragments of broken glass hailed down around us. More explosions followed in short succession. The ordeal seemed everlasting.

It was mid–day on March 22, 1945.

Each Remembrance Day my thoughts slip back to the five dark years (1940–1945) when we lived under the satanic tyranny of the ruthless dictator Adolf Hitler.

I am reminded of fierce hunger, bitter cold, bombing attacks, screeching airplanes, stray V–1 missiles, and ruthless murders.

Sitting by a warm fireplace today, I think of the awful cold nights and the empty aching stomach that often prevented us from sleeping. I recall the skeleton-like figures who came begging for food where there was none to be had.

But most of all, I cannot shake the memory of my youngest brother and me racing through rocks and debris in the smoldering town as we searched for our mom, brothers, and sister. Three fierce bombing attacks in one hour left 175 people dead and 350 wounded.

But Mom was alive! We found her, my sister, and four brothers dazed in a ruined home amongst blown out windows, bomb fragments, red bricks, and holes in the walls.

Mom hugged us tight for what seemed like an eternity. Then she wiped a few chairs clean with her apron and told us to kneel down and pray. She thanked her heavenly Father for the safety of her children and asked for a safe homecoming for dad and our three older brothers.

The recollection that shines with joy is my memory of Liberation Day—May 5th, 1945—the day when Allied soldiers in tanks rolled in to end five years of living hell.

Each Remembrance Day I watch veteran soldiers, fewer every year, honoring their fallen comrades. I think of brave young people who are buried on foreign soil because they gave their all for the freedom we enjoy today. I am convinced that each time courageous veterans pin their shiny medals onto their uniforms they are mindful of the sweat and tears of fallen comrades and the horrid agonies in fierce battles fought on land, on sea, and in the skies above.

I often wonder what life would be like today if not for the wartime actions of so many courageous men and women.

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