"At 18, he entered the US Army (1943-46) and fought in World War II in Europe as part of the 102nd 'Ozark' Infantry Division, 407th Regiment. He fought from the Belgian-Dutch border through Germany to the Elbe River where he met Soviet allies. His jobs were rifleman and infantry scout, and he was awarded the Bronze Star medal."
Whose life and valor do these words describe? An iconic soldier out of historical fiction? Perhaps a prominent world leader?
In fact, the person in question is Arthur Roth, grandfather of Maya M. '21. And although he might not be famous, the words he shared with our eighth graders last week deserve just as much respect as those of anyone who did make the history books.
Roth told tales of his experiences as a soldier in Germany, making events that took place 75 years ago come to life. He described what it was like as a young person to see fellow soldiers pass away in front of his eyes. This included his closest friend from the Army, Fred, who was cut down by a piece of shrapnel as the two men dug out in a foxhole. (Or so Roth thought; happily, Fred actually survived and went on to have 15 children!)
Detailed descriptions of rations on the front lines, nighttime missions to retrieve a German defector, and celebratory revels following the Allies' victory kept audience members captivated for the better part of an hour. Upon ending his story, Roth took questions from the gathered students.
"It's always a pleasure for me to talk about that part of my life," shared the 92-year-old veteran. "It's history to all of you, but it's current events to me. All of those sensations, all of the people I fought with during World War II, are as vivid to me today as though I had seen them just this morning."