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Editor from Abilene participates in Battlefield Tour

Editor from Abilene

participates in 99th

Battlefield Tour to Europe

     Vivien L. Sadowski, publisher emeritus of the Abilene (Kansas) Reflector-Chronicle, General Dwight Eisenhower's home town newspaper, participated in the Battlefield Tour of 99'ers to Europe in October.

     Vivien is former president of Kansas Press Association, president of National Press Women, and is a friend of Bill and Joan Meyer and Donna Bernhardt.

     She wrote a series of columns about her trip after returning to Abilene.

     Among other things she missed to go on the tour were the University of Kansas vs. Kansas State University football game and the Eisenhower Birthday Celebration as well as some important family gatherings.

     Vivien especially enjoyed the visit to the south of England, the seacoast, Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, and Piddlehinton. The latter was enchanting. She enjoyed the warm welcome at the Thimble Inn, the food, the atmosphere, the quaint villages where homes have thatched roofs, and the charming people. English tea was a highlight. It was a memorable experience.

     The church service, the building was constructed in 1299 and they were celebrating their 700th anniversary, and the organist playing "America The Beautiful" left the group choked up with no dry eyes.

     Vivien said she never could have envisioned such as day as the one spent in the little village of Piddlehinton.

     She took her readers along on the Eurostar train through the Chunnel, and acquainted them with Belgium.

     Another highlight was being greeted by the Burgermeister of Monschau, in Germany, with Edgar Pots and his "Old Glory" standing proudly while the group toasted friendship.

     She also commented on the first class accommodations and the wide variety of good food provided by the hotels.

     Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and the assembled group of Belgians who came there to greet the Americans was a solemn and soul stirring experience. The singing of The Star Spangled Banner in French, a cappella, "was a way of offering their assurance that our veterans and their sacrifices would never be forgotten."

     She told her readers about visiting the Ardennes battlefields and historic sites. And she taught them a bit of history about the valor of the gallant stand of the 99th Infantry Division in those forested hills.

     She said the men of the 99th "waged and won a fierce and costly battle, a battle that proved to be crucial to the success of the Battle of the Bulge."

     Another episode shared with her readers was the visit to Elsenborn Ridge, and the firing of the 155 howitzer battery. It sent chills down her spine.

     But her most emotional experience of visiting battlefields with veterans was yet to come.

     While in the forest, with a group of veterans, she came across an abandoned foxhole from 1944. She saw a piece of Army olive-drab wool blanket, a glove, a rusted fork and other pieces of gear that had been left behind. "You can only imagine the mental images I had of what it must have been like for those men."

     Standing on a cliff, across from Remagen, "overlooking the Rhine took my breath away."

     "But, perhaps, the most unforgettable memory of this trip will be that of seeing veterans of the German Third Reich and the 99th Infantry Division shaking hands and hugging one another. For that reminded me, as it would have anyone, 'man's inhumanity to man' is the greatest sorrow on earth."

     Your Checkerboard editor visited with Vivien at a recent meeting of the William Allen White Foundation (both are trustees) and she said she continues to be "overwhelmed by the experience," but added, "I'd like to go again."

     Vivien is always welcome.