After a month in Metz, our last day is sadly here. We started our day with a tour of the Lorraine American Cemetery. This cemetery has the largest number of graves of United States military casualties from World War II in Europe. The guided tour offered some insights into three men who are buried in the cemetery. The first story we heard was about a Medal of Honor recipient named Ruben Rivers. He earned his Medal of Honor because he stayed in his tank for three days straight in order to provide coverage for his men. The death year on his grave stone reads 1944 but he did not receive his Medal of Honor until the 90s because he was an African American Soldier. The second soldier we learned about is unknown. The cemetery still has many graves with a headstone that reads “here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known only but to God.” The cemetery is actively working to identify these men and finally give peace to their families. These graves demonstrate to us that the men who fought in World War II lost more than their lives; they lost their identity. The last grave we visited with our guide is the grave of Charles Campbell. The most impactful part of his story is the last letter that he wrote to his father before he died. In this letter, he talks about his plans for after the war and his ideas about the future. Sadly, Charles would not see the end of the war but that makes his story all the more impactful because we are reminded that these soldiers were young men who were not able to live out their dreams because they sacrificed their lives to keep us safe so that we could have a future. At the end of the guided portion of our visit, our guide asked us one simple favor. She asked us that as we walk through the rows of graves to take a minute and read some of the names on the grave stones in remembrance of the soldiers to keep their memories alive.
After the cemetery, we traveled to Nancy where we were joined by Pooja and Harper who had a bit of a “prague-lematic” time getting back to France since their flight home from Prague was canceled. Before our scheduled ride on the tourist train, we had some time to explore the Place Stanislas. Known around the world for its architecture and beauty, this square is earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The square was constructed by the architect Emmanuel Héré and the iron gates were constructed by Jean Lamour. The square is a pivotal part of Nancy because it is home to the City Hall, the Opera House, and the Fine Arts Museum. The tourist train gave us a comprehensive overview of the city and its historical significance. But, I think we would all say that the best part of the train ride was that at the end of the tour, the conductor drove us to the restaurant where we were having our group dinner!
Our day ended with a group dinner in Nancy and a quick train ride back to Metz so we could finish packing to leave for Brussels the following morning. While we will all greatly miss Metz, we are excited to move on to Brussels and see what new opportunities lie ahead.
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