Date with History: Gratitude is Not Enough

Event Details

Thu, Nov 7, 2024
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:

Cantigny Visitors Center

1S151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189

Date with History

Gratitude is Not Enough

Le Jardin
Thursday, November 7, 6 pm
Free with paid parking

It was a crisp, clear day in November 1943 as 10-year-old Marcel Schmetz walked home from school along Route de la Clouse, Hitler’s new Belgium-German border. He was about to cross a small bridge over the Berwinne Creek.

To his right, he saw an unassuming loaf of bread bobbing downstream in the creek. Then, peering further over the flimsy bridge railing, he saw her. A young woman was face-down at water’s edge with armed border guards standing over her. Water rippled slowly past her lifeless body, turning pink as it flowed into occupied Belgium. Marcel did not know that poor, young woman. But he did know of her likely desperation to try to smuggle food across the border for her family. For more than three years, Marcel’s family and neighbors had been deprived of their basic rights and fundamental needs for survival.

No one knew liberation was still 10 months away, but Marcel’s family would persevere as they had for the previous three years. At the time, young Marcel couldn’t know the powerful, personal impact those liberating heroes from the famed American 1st Infantry Division would have on him, after they secured his town and later bivouacked on the Schmetz family’s farm. Nor could he dream of how he and his future wife, Mathilde, would dedicate their lives to keeping those soldiers, their sacrifices and their bonds alive for future generations to cherish.

This is not a war story, although there are accounts of war. It is not an historic tome though historic events are described. It is the simple story of how war and history shaped a couple’s powerful love for each other, for strangers and for a people an ocean away.

It also asks the question: How will their legacy of love continue after Marcel and Mathilde are gone?

About the Speaker

Doctor Tom Stein is a retired Emergency Physician, as well as a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He received his undergraduate degree from Purdue University and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Pennsylvania State University. He completed his Emergency Medicine Residency at Darnall Army Community Hospital, Fort Hood, Texas and served 38 years in the Army and Army Reserves. Emergency Medical Services and Disaster Medicine are his sub-specialties. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife Janet.

About Date with History

The First Division Museum’s Date with History series, now in its 17th year, features presentations by authors, historians, documentarians, and veterans on a variety of military history topics. Visit Cantigny or attend online to connect with these experts in a lecture and Q&A format.