Gabriel Abel Program Reflections on Leaving Berlin 2008

“Today we went a lot of places in Berlin.  It was cool to learn about a lot of it.  Although not everything that I observed or liked today was completely World War II related, it still brought me closer to the conclusion that because of this trip I have learned, broadened, and even changed some of my views.  Because of this trip I have gained new insight not only into World War II history but my own personal heritage.  What do I mean by all this?  One of the things, for example, that I have come to cherish and appreciate thanks to this trip is my Jewish heritage.  I have learned more on this trip about my Jewish background, what Judaism has endured, how it has progressed, than anywhere before in my life.  I feel as though I’ve become closer to my roots because of this trip.  I talked about it tonight with everyone at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Things as simple as placing rocks on graves and how that’s primarily a Jewish tradition–I never knew that, but yet my family did that.  The in depth learning of aspects of the Holocaust and Jewish persecution has brought be closer.  Another thing that has changed on this trip, strictly because of it, was the complete reversal of my feelings on America.  Never before could I say I was proud to be an American, because never before did I know what it meant.  Before this trip, I was super anti-American, against everything they. . .we did even without reason.  Now, even if I may not agree with everything our government or country does, I can still say I know where we came from.  The dirt, the mud, the hell we went through to help a cause more noble than we ever could have forseen.  We were the main defenders of not just freedom but LIFE ITSELF on the western front, and how much differently I see the same flag that flies throughout our country. How much differently I see how all the world’s countries are related and interlinked, we rely and affect each other like family and the implications of that statement are crucial.”

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