Freedom rings, thanks to our WWII veterans
Ronald Reagan warned us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
“It must be fought for, protected, and handed on to them (future generations) to do the same,” the Gipper stated.
That principle inspired George Ciampa, a World War II veteran, to create Let Freedom Ring, a nonprofit organization focused on educating today’s generation on the importance of being free.
Ciampa was a skinny 18-year-old weighing just 112 pounds when he landed on June 6, 1944, (D-Day) in Normandy, France. Over the next 11 months, he and others from the 607th Graves Registration Company handled the remains of soldiers who were killed. The unit gathered about 75,000 corpses, recovering their personal items, putting their bodies in mattress covers and burying them in temporary graves.
After returning home from Europe, Ciampa wanted to forget the war. It wasn’t until 50 years later during his first trip back to France since the war that he told family members what he had witnessed, and tried to contact others he had served with in Europe.
As a teen, Ciampa saw how people in Europe lost their freedom when Nazi Germany occupied their countries in an attempt to conquer the continent. Now 93, he realizes that too many people today take freedom for granted, never realizing that it could be taken away. Ciampa still visits schools to teach younger generations about what he calls “the high cost of freedom.”
He is also a documentary film producer. After visiting Normandy 2007, he made his sixth and last documentary, “D-Day Veterans Return to Normandy” which was featured in the G.I. Film Festival and shown across the country on more than 90 PBS stations.
His quest to pass on history to a generation of younger Americans is crucial.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, about 496,770 were alive in 2018, according to Veterans Affairs figures collected by the National WWII Museum. Every day, on average more than 300 die, taking with them a personal eyewitness account to wartime history. Gordon “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO emeritus of the National WWII Museum, said that “every time a veteran dies, a library burns.”
Many liberal professors and history revisionists ignore or certainly downplay many pivotal events in history.
The Holocaust is a prime example. Last year, a study commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany revealed that two-thirds of all U.S. millennials didn’t know what the Auschwitz concentration camp was, and many others had no idea of the magnitude of the Holocaust. Four out of 10 believed 2 million or fewer Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust. The actual number is about 6 million.
This disconnect to history may impact modern society. The FBI estimates that hate crimes have spiked nationwide, and between 2014 and 2017, anti-Semitic attacks rose 54 percent.
A recent survey also found that most incidents of hate and bias in schools go unreported, and the perpetrators face no discipline.
A group of California teenagers even documented themselves making Nazi salutes and posing with swastikas. Volker Benkert, an assistant professor of history at Arizona State University, called that behavior the “ultimate publication for attention.”
He said when veterans and Holocaust survivors die, their stories will be relegated to cultural memory, which have less impact than the lived experiences of individuals.
It’s been 75 years since George Ciampa experienced both the horrors and heroics of war while serving in the European Theater of war. When speaking to young students today, Ciampa stresses that without the brave men and women of his generation, the world would be a different place.
Ciampa said all he can do is talk to kids in schools, and that it’s up to the schools and universities to do their part. Given the age we’re living in, we can’t wait for schools and colleges to suddenly pivot to deliver the unfiltered truth.
It’s grizzled veterans like Ciampa who can best deliver what the school text books and college professors are ignoring. He and his comrades in arms lived it … allowing our freedom to ring today.
By Jim Zbick | email@example.com