May 27, 2010

Concentration Camp Liberator Travels to Holocaust Memorial

This 1945 photo of Don Tague was one of the images shown during the slide show along with other liberators.

Don Tague ventured east on an all-expense-paid trip sixty-five years ago this year. This spring he went on an expense paid trip east again as a direct result of his experiences in the year 1945. Note that this time all expenses were not paid, but perhaps you the reader might have paid some of the expenses and he thanks you with gratitude if that be the case. This includes plane tickets for Don Tague and a guest, a night at a hotel in Washington, D. C., and cab fare.

As part of the Days of Remembrance Week over one-hundred-twenty liberators of concentration camps in Europe of 1945 were invited to tour the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and attend a program at the Capitol rotunda the next day. There were two bus rides under police escort, which really helps get around in traffic in Washington, D.C. There were speeches by Attorney General Eric Holder and General David Petraeus among others.

The day before the programs started Don Tague visited the World War II Memorial. It was an overcast and rainy day but early that morning he had the light shown in the adjacent photo of the Washington Monument to look over the WWII Memorial.

Don Tague shook hands with General David Petraeus, who passed him a point of excellence medal.

A small group tour of the Holocaust Museum was much appreciated, with a ratio of staff to liberator of one to one. A banquet dinner seating nearly a thousand people preceded the speech by Attorney General Eric Holder, and Don Tague sat at a table with one survivor of the holocaust and a few guests and donors to the museum. Each of over a hundred tables had similar seating arrangement. The sea bass was very good.

A slide show ran during the hors d’oeuvre preview of the dinner, and photos of the liberators of 1945 scrolled on a screen, including the photo of Don Tague seen on the front page of this edition.

The Korean War Memorial was visited also along with the Vietnam War Memorial and Washington National Cathedral.

Don Tague and his son David pose on each sideof the Browning Automatic Rifle carrying statue in the Korean War Memorial. Don Tague carried the Browning Automatic Rifle in Europe in 1945, but not in Korea when he was there in 1951.

Don Tague hand delivered two sheets of paper in his own handwriting to the Holocaust Museum, that described what he did and saw in the spring of 1945. These were laid up among the archives of the institution, that it might be remembered that he was there in 1945 and certain things did indeed occur. There has been pressure especially via Internet sources that the Holocaust is a hoax. History is what the future believes. One of the themes of this year’s Week of Remembrance is that You Make a Difference. This holds true even in terms of what each individual accepts as history.

Don Tague would like to thank someone else and has had sixty-five years to think about it. The two eighty-eight millimeter shells that struck the ground closest to him in 1945 did not explode, and the reasons for that are probably found in six candles lit at the Capitol rotunda. Each candle symbolized one million lives lost in concentration camps during World War II. Some of those who died worked in slave labor camps and some built artillery shells.

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