SHAPE, Belgium -- Sixth graders at SHAPE American Middle School and middle school students from the Norwegian Section boarded two buses and traveled to Bastogne, Belgium, Dec. 6. The students got a rare opportunity to tour the town with historian, author and Emmy-award winning producer Martin King.
The students watched the documentary "Searching For Augusta" before the trip and knew the background leading up to the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. The young learners visited the Bastogne Museum as well as the Bastogne Barracks, a place made famous by Gen. Anthony McAuliffe. It was where he issued surrender demands from the Germans with his famous one-word reply "NUTS!"
It was one thing for the students to learn about history in the classroom. It was an entirely different experience for them to go out and see historical sites in person, especially while living in the Benelux. The students got a greater understanding of the trials and tribulations the Belgians and U.S. Soldiers had to undergo during the siege. One student commented that "the people had to be smart the entire time. It was a dangerous place to be."
As a surprise, people at Bastogne Barracks reenacted the famous Dec. 5, 1944 event in Luxembourg. On that day, a U.S. Soldier dressed up as Saint Nicholas and drove around in a Willis jeep passing out treats to the children.
During the students' trip to the Bastogne Barracks, Saint Nicholas drove around in a Willis jeep and brought gifts to them.
The visit was a once in a lifetime experience for the students, and it left lasting impressions on them. After the visit, the students remarked that they hope to visit Bastogne again.