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Nov. 11: Remembering Audie Murphy

Audie MurphyYesterday was a day for remembering war vets. In Canada, people wear poppies and attend services, and poppy sales were at an all-time high this year. In the U.S., war heroes are celebrated and the never-ending list of people serving in the Armed Services are saluted.

People like Audie Murphy.

Who's Audie Murphy?

There are probably two generations of North Americans who haven't a clue, including many from our generation. Those who have heard of him likely think of the Hollywood actor who for two decades played mostly cowboy type roles on the big screen, which meant his real story as a soldier was lost on many.

Not on Viking Cruises.

One of the shore excursions on one of the Viking itineraries includes a trip to the Audie Murphy Memorial. That would be in France, near a small town called Holtzwihr. The people of Holtzwihr — there are fewer than 2,000 living there today Holtzwihr Memorial to Audie L. Murphy— never forgot him. Thirteen years ago, they built the memorial. An American hero, an American movie star, a soldier's soldier as they say…celebrated to this day in the French countryside where he lived what might be called the day he became a legend.

And speaking of legends…the most popular one is that he held off, injured and killed dozens of enemy soldiers that day, almost single-handedly. He climbed onto a burning German tank, turned it on the enemy and held them at bay until he ran out of ammunition, returning on a wounded leg to his company, which he then led into battle. It was one of the turning-point battles in World War II.

Murphy was decorated with every known military combat medal and award for courage and valor — 33 of them. He was wounded three times. After returning from France at age 21, he suffered mightily from what today is known as PTSD. He died at age 45 in a plane crash in Virginia, 43 years ago.

Yesterday was a reminder to remember him, as a symbol of war veterans — all gave some, some gave all.

Viking Cruises is part of that.

- Photo of Audie Murphy Memorial by Conrad SickowViking Prestige

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