Our AAUW Garden Divas leader who helped create the Rosie the Riveter Garden will be continuing her journey to create a history for the Spirit of 45.
AUSTIN, Texas — It was the last big rehearsal for the University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band.
“This is all about the veterans, mainly those who did not come home,” said Longhorn Alumni Band member Bill Phillips.
The band was preparing for its performances in France commemorating one of the most important battles of World War II.
“To take the beaches that our soldiers took 75 years ago is just an absolute incredible opportunity,” said Longhorn Alumni Band President Geof Sloan.
But shortly after the rehearsal started the band was interrupted by a special guest.
“So, I wanted to come and say a few words and wish you the best,” said University of Texas President Greg Fenves.
The musicians expected to hear how their trip would be a special and important occasion.
“You’re going to represent the University of Texas and the State of Texas but also the entire nation as you go back to Normandy on the 75th anniversary of the landing of D-Day,” Fenves said.
But many of them had no idea what was coming next.
“On June 6th, 1944, my dad turned 13-years-old,” Fenves said. “And he was in German occupied Hungary at the time.”
His father told him how excited they were to hear the news that the Americans were landing in Europe and wondered if it would be in time to save his family.
“Later that year in 1945, his family was deported to Auschwitz,” Fenves said as he talked about his dad’s scary journey. “He later escaped Auschwitz and ended up in Buchenwald.”
Time was running out for his father and his family, but then the Allies took Germany.
“To be liberated by the same army that landed on D-Day in April of 1945,” Fenves said.
A year and a battle his family will never forget.
“So, from his 13th birthday to his 14th birthday he survived the Nazi concentration camps to be liberated by the United States Army that landed on D-Day on June 6th, 1944,” Fenves said.
Now, with those words these musicians know they’re on an important mission to honor the memory of the fallen the families of the survivors.
“The eyes of the world will be upon us just like Eisenhower said in 44,” Sloan said.