The Benson Junior ROTC cadets are back home with a lot to process. Their long-awaited trip to France to serve as part of the D-Day commemorative events is behind them. It was a lot to absorb.
The photos from the trip are tranquil scenes but those shores looked dramatically different 70 years ago.
Chelsie Curtis knew she was experiencing something much larger than herself and the group from Benson making the trip for the anniversary.
“With our ROTC, we all bonded really well, together out there," she said.
Meeting a veteran added a deeply personal touch for Chelsie, knowing what they sacrificed that day in June.
She said, “It was overwhelming. You sit there and think, wow, they actually went through it, and we are just here to look and march through it."
But immediately after, mom knew the parade was a special part of the trip - a way to uphold tradition and honor.
Kelly Curtis said, “I could tell the emotions on her. When I was talking to her on the phone when they marched that parade, she said, ‘that was the best experience I've ever had in my life, mom.’"
Chelsie now uses the trip to empower her future. She graduated from high school just days before the trip and hopes to eventually join the Army.
The Benson JROTC raised $91,000 to fund the trip. They were selected to represent Nebraska during the celebrations.