It was our fourth day, and we took a tour at Whitwell Middle School. This is the school that made a memorial that commemorates the Jewish Holocaust that happened during WWII. We first of all went inside an old style train carriage used by the Nazis to transport millions of Jews to concentration camps. This car was filled with paperclips which each represented a life executed by the Nazis. We saw some butterflies in wire made by an artist meaning to represent rebirth, and we also saw some stones brought by people to represent lives in the same way as the paperclips.
We then moved to the inside of the campus and saw the respectable Ms. Linda Hooper in flesh. She herself was nice, being tolerant to us foreigners when she spoke. She led us inside a room full of artifacts. She talked to us about how anti-Semitism started in Germany, and she went over some of the artifacts in that room. We then made for another room analyzing letters from people concerned about the project. We left the campus with Ms. Hooper escorting the group.
After a few hours on the road and a stop at a Subway for lunch, we arrived safely in Monroeville, Alabama. With a plan to just walk around and enjoy the sights of this quaint little Southern town until it was time for dinner, we ended entering a small, local bookstore to browse. How lucky for us that we went in, since we were instantly greeted by the man, Ruban Williams, who was to be our tour guide of the town. He happily agreed to walk around with us right then and there. And what a treat it was! He told us wonderful stories of the powerful and influential Harper Lee (known primarily as Nellie, of course, to the residents of her hometown) and pointed out specific locations in the town square that are referenced in To Kill A Mockingbird. After a far too brief time with the engaging Ruban, we ended our evening with dinner at The Courthouse Café. With stomachs full, we enjoyed another walk around this famous town, with our final destination being The Budget Inn. Though our lodgings for the night are certainly nothing fancy, the history surrounding us is astounding. Almost every single Middle or High School student in the entire United States reads and analyzes To Kill A Mockingbird at some point in their academic career and here we are – the lucky ones experiencing the sights and the history right here in person.
It’s been a day full of embracing and reflecting on history. And the journey continues tomorrow.