The Berlin Airlift exhibit... a truly moving experience

Indianapolis Travel Blog

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Posted on four large plaques inside the lobby of the Indiana War Memorial were the following words:

Duty. Faith. Freedom. Courage.

For today's blog, I'm putting my silly banter aside and instead letting the passion and admiration for this country's heroes feed through my finger tips. 

Yesterday, my coworker Melissa and I were invited to attend the opening ceremony of the "Friends Always" exhibit in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift at the Indiana War Memorial. This exhibit highlights not only the events that occurred, but also the enduring friendship between Germany and the United States ever since.

Here is an excerpt from the invitation:

In 1948, the Soviets blocked the western portion of Berlin. In response, the U.S. and her Allies took to the skies flying in provisions for West Berlin’s over 2 million residents, an effort that grew into the Luftbrücke ��" an unending conveyor belt of planes landing at Tempelhof Airport. During the Airlift, the aircraft supplied the city with 700 tons a day in June 1948 to 12,940 tons daily by April 1949.  On May 12, 1949 the Soviets finally gave in and reopened land and water routes into Berlin. Airlift missions finally ended in late September 1949.

I walked in clueless, as several my age would, into what was one of the most moving experiences I've witnessed. With the Indianapolis Maennerchor singing the anthem of both Germany and the United States, this reception was dedicated to upholding the honor of both countries alike.

Without going into an exhausting history lesson, I'll give you a brief synopsis of my experience. First and foremost, it is amazing to see the dedication and passion people have not only for our history in general, but also for those individuals that made these progressive movements possible.

My confession of ignorance to various historical events is probably not alone, especially among those of our age group. However, after listening to William E. Morrissey, Senior Master Sergeant of the United States Air Force, give a speech responding to the German American Friendship Award he received, we were moved to tears and I was truly inspired. The host read a letter written two years ago addressed to Morrissey. The letter was written by a German native who was personally thanking Morrissey for his efforts during the Berlin Airlift.

"My door is always open to you..." the writer said.
Walking up the stage in his deep maroon uniform and hat in hand, he stood behind the mic  and he began his speech with what seemed to be a painful silence followed by a deep sigh.

"I was only a small part," Morrissey said.

A true hero at its best. He was one of 70,000 plus people involved in one of the greatest humanitarian efforts of all time. And to bring it even closer to home, out of the 31 Americans that died during the Berlin Airlift, four were from Indiana. They were each honored by name and a moment of silence.

Walking through the exhibit, I was astounded by the photographs and their ability to capture the turmoil, the tears and the triumph during the Berlin Airlift sixty years ago.

If you are traveling through downtown Indianapolis, I urge you to stop into the Indiana War Memorial and take a brief moment to acknowledge this exhibit. And while you're at it, take the time to admire all of Indy's great memorials.

Do something different. Make your weekend unique. And never pass up a moment to witness something historic such as this. You never realize what you could gain from such an experience.

Because it wasn't until I walked out of the reception when those four words in the lobby had resounded with more meaning. Through the images, the people and the stories, my perspective became a bit more lucid while passing what seemed to just be letters on a plaque when I walked in.

Duty. Freedom. Faith. Courage.

What do they mean to you? 

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