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Memory Trip Through Europe

Over the course of almost two weeks, the Normandy Scholars Program from UTK found our way traveling through memory in a way as we visited many different locations dedicated to the remembrance of the events of WWII. These locations ranged in what sort of memories they were trying to invoke for visitors, as I have talked about in previous blogs when discussing the foreign cemeteries for the Allied and Axis soldiers who gave their lives on the beaches of Normandy. Even with the variance, each site added to a greater understanding of how each country viewed their own actions and the actions of other countries throughout WWII. With our trip through London, there was a mix of pride found in memorials such as the Churchill War Rooms contrasted with the somber descriptions of the English bombers found at other sites. As described in that previous blog, there was a celebratory nature of the memory of the American soldiers in Normandy that contrasted with the shameful nature of the memory of the German soldiers. Memorials in Paris did not shy away from the regretful actions of the Vichy government during the war, with two separate memorials focusing on the opportunistic nature of the Vichy government in France throughout the war that led to so many lives lost. Finally, Amsterdam had memorials to the lost, such as Anne Frank, yet the memorials also touched on the other effects on life within the Netherlands that were not as directly impacted by conflict like had happened in England and France. Each of those is a gross oversimplification of the collective memory invoked by the memorials we visited, but they the major takeaways that were invoked within me as we visited each of the memorials.