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In the Footsteps of a High School History Teacher

Suzanne was inspired to visit Bastogne, Belgium after reading her high school teacher’s memoir about his time during WWII. She was surprised to find a museum in the town honoring her teacher, Vince Speranza, and his 101st Airborne Division. Pictured are Vince’s memorabilia from his time there, and a wax figure of Vince himself.

“You must visit the bomb shelter in the basement,” said the museum’s curator. I closed the door to the eerie room and sat quietly. Then Vince’s recorded voice echoed through the dark, introducing what it was like to be in a bomb shelter. The room got louder. Bombs exploded nearby. Lights, dangling from the ceiling, swayed and flickered. Children cried. I couldn’t stand the noise any longer and fled to catch my breath.

My family and I dined that evening and drank Airborne beer from a small ceramic helmet at Bastogne’s Le Nuts café, a unique way to say “A votre sante!” (to your health) as well as a thank you to the young warriors of the 101st Airborne Division...and to Private Vince Speranza, Bastogne’s hero, and my high school teacher.

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Vince Speranza travels to Europe yearly, where he’s honored in Bastogne, Belgium. He also visits classrooms and participates in speaking engagements throughout the United States. Vince was recently honored at the Pentagon and soon he’s off to Alaska for a 101st Airborne Reunion. Vince will be in Bastogne this December to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Battle of the Bulge. He’s sure to lead the parade down main street.

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