Students find graves of eastern Iowa soldiers during overseas tr - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Students find graves of eastern Iowa soldiers during overseas trip

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

They traveled overseas, and now they're telling veterans what they learned.

Colombus High School's A.P. European History class traveled overseas with their teacher on a 12-day trip. 

The Waterloo students visited France and Belgium. 

"Our class motto for the trip was to experience, to honor, and to remember," students tell KWWL.

The trip was led by teacher Gary Schneiders.

The students visited sites still scarred by World War I and World War II

They also visited cemeteries for fallen soldiers, finding soldiers barried in France that were from Waterloo and Cedar Falls. 

Some of the cemeteries the students visited are rarely seen by Americans. 

The students say something that really stuck out to them was how some people overseas remember these wars and soldiers from so long ago. 

For example, in France poppies can be seen in many hotels and shops. Poppies are  the symbol of World War I.

In Belgium, there's a wreath laying every night in honor of those who fought for Belgium in World War I. 

The Columbus students want show they appreciate their veterans in the Cedar Valley. 

This Sunday, they're going to be doing a presentation about their trip at Columbus High School. 

It will be at 6 at night, and it will be open to the pubic. 

Veterans are encouraged to attend. 

Here's a list of what the students did in France and Belgium. 

  • The first 2 nights, we stayed at Chateau des Monthairons in Lorraine, France. It was used as a field hospital in WWI.
  • WWI had many instances of underground mining.  The two sides would try to mine to a position under the enemy and would lay explosives.  The craters formed by these explosions were massive.  We visited a number of them.  
  • In Verdun, we visited Fort Vaux and Fort Douaumont.  Fort Vaux has a great story of the French holding out against the Germans in WWI despite running out of water and pigeons (for correspondence).  Fort Douaumont had a less noble story, as it was captured by a single German officer sneaking in through an unguarded window.
  • We visited the site of towns that no longer exist because they were shelled off the map in WWI (eg Fleury and Vauquois).
  • We had a wreath laying ceremony at the Muese-Argonne American Cemetery.
  • In Ieper, Belgium, we stayed right around the corner from the Menin Gate. They shut down the street every night for a memorial ceremony of WWI.  This has gone on continuously since the end of WWI, with the exception of the occupied period in WWII.  We had a wreath laying ceremony here.
  • We visited the bunker that was used as a field dressing station, where John McCrae wrote "In Flanders Fields".
  • We took a 22 mile bike ride around the battlefields outside Ieper, including the famous Hill 60 which had a movie made about the mine that was dug underneath and blown up.
  • We visited the WWII German mountain base that they used to launch their air attack on London.
  • As mentioned before, we visited the church in Messines where Hitler was treated in WWI. He came back to visit it after occupation in WWII to commemorate his recovery.
  • We visited the site of the famous Christmas Truce soccer match. We left a signed soccer ball at the memorial.
  • We attended mass at St. Albert Cathedral in Ieper...in Dutch.
  • We had a wreath laying ceremony at the Somme American Cemetery.
  • We visited the Normandy beaches. We saw the graves of the brothers that were the inspiration for Saving Private Ryan.
  • We visited a lot of cemeteries:  American, British, French, Belgium, German, Canadian, Australian, Irish.  We visited a spot where the soldiers were buried in a circle because they were laid in a shell hole and just covered up.  We visited a trench where soldiers were left buried in place. 
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