The following is reprinted from "The Lyon Tale" published in 2003, author Ellayne Conyers.
THRITY YEARS AFTER THE WAR
In 1974, Robert and I (Robert's wife, LaVonne) made a trip back to Germany, 30 years after the war, and retraced some of the paths he had encountered during World War II. As stated before, he had survived the Battle of Normandy, the October 6th Battle in Echternach and many others, but he was able to stand and admire the hedgerows in France, the beautiful green rolling hills in the countryside. He could shop in the large cities that had sprung up from small villages in Germany and France. But best of all, he had peace of mind, peace with himself, and he was able to make friends with his former enemies.
Birgel, Germany was a hard village to locate. It was difficult for Robert to believe this little village was still on the map. It had been torn apart, blown apart and left in complete devastation. This village had been brought back to life and the steeples in the churches that were blown out now all stood erect and the few remaining buildings in 1944-1945 were reconstructed. It was in full contrast to a village of smoke-filled skies above when he left 30 years prior. As we strolled through this lovely place, admiring the beautifully kept homes with bright fragrant flowers growing in their yards and the clean countryside, Robert and I both felt peace within us. The friendly and happy people were eager to talk. One older gentleman was working in his yard as we strolled by. Robert asked him if he was there when Birgel was invaded. He stated, "No, I was fighting on the Russian front." He proceeded to tell us about his crippled hands, his stay in the hospital and his leg problems, all war related. As we left, Robert and the German man shook hands and we departed in a friendly manner. Perhaps, shortly after the war these two gentlemen would probably feel more like enemies. Time does heal all wounds.
For a moment I could tell Robert was wondering if he was in a deep dream. The memories went back to that bitter, cold gloomy day of Dec. 14, 1944. Today he can smile when he visits the same area but when he smiles we know there are still scars of war that cannot be forgotten, however, he felt in 1942 like all the young soldiers felt HE DID WHAT HE HAD TO DO!
He was also bothered with the fact the German soldier had suffered so much damage to his legs, hand and head. We are all sympathetic for war veterans.
Today the soldiers of World War II are dwindling. Especially, the Prisoners of War. There are not many that can march in parades because of bad health. It is not uncommon for them to still suffer from insomnia and many other emotional illnesses. They spend many hours waiting for doctor appointments at the VA Clinics and hospitals. Many do not discuss their imprisonment in detail unless the information is pried out of them. It is a very unpleasant subject to discuss willingly. We who have not been there perhaps have a hard time to understand. I, as Robert's wife, can fully understand after he opened up and talked freely the first day in Birgel, Germany in 1974. Now we are thankful after 50 years we still have some heroes that can celebrate and tell us they are glad it is behind them. We are also thankful that Bud and this German man working in his garden walked away from each other as friends. It gave me gave meaning of forgiveness."
SOURCE: "The Lyon Tale," published in 2003, by Ellayne Conyers; interviews with Robert and LaVonne Bouressa.