IN HIS FATHER'S FOOTSTEPS
The Journey of Miles Eckard, Son of Franklin Glenn Eckard, Sr.
Gibsonville man follows in
WWII veteran’s footsteps
July 27, 2007 - 8:53PM
Photo from newspaper website:
Miles Eckard leans on the memorial to
his father’s World War II regiment.
Eckard’s father died at a battle in France.
Click on photo to enlarge
A trip nine months in the making took Gibsonville residents Miles and his wife, Beverly Eckard, through the French countryside following the path Miles’ father took with the army during World War II. Traveling in his father’s footsteps between May 29 and June 27, straight through the 63rd anniversaries of D-Day and his father’s military tour in Europe, the couple, traveling with their son Tim, daughter-in-law Jonna, Brian Oldham, a professor from England, and his wife Patricia, the group examined war memorials, military cemeteries and reenactments. Miles, a math professor at Greensboro College, met Brian in 1986 at a conference. The two kept in touch, and Brian, a history professor, saw Miles’ trip as an exciting opportunity. Brian brought along hundreds of pages of research, which made Miles realize that the trip had transformed into an expedition, he said. The idea for the trip came to Miles as he was examining correspondence between his family and his father, Franklin Glenn Eckard, Sr., assembled in a binder by Miles’ brother, with a copy handed to each family member. After visiting numerous other war related sites, on June 6, almost a year after they began planning, the Eckards arrived in Farébersviller, on the French border with Germany. The small town with a population of around 6,300 was the site of a battle with heavy losses on both German and American sides, including Miles’ father, who died on Nov. 28, 1944. A memorial to the fallen soldiers reads, “only the fish are alive in Farébersviller.” “The trip was emotional, but well worth it,” Beverly said during an interview on Monday at her home. Her eyes watering as she looked over Miles’ father’s letters. “At moments (of the trip), I couldn’t even talk.” One in particular was written by Miles’ mother, Leonora the day after he died, telling him of the family’s Christmas plans. At the time, she was unaware of his death. While Beverly examined the letters, Miles traced his recent journey, as well as his father’s, on a highway map of France. On a previous trip to France, Miles had been unaware that he and his wife had actually been only 20 miles from Farébersviller while visiting Saarbrücken, Germany. Miles said the trip was unique to him because he got to see how people lived, rather than the way battles were fought, which he could see in the movies. While they toured the city of Farébersviller, they found bullet holes still lodged in the local church. Along their route, the couple met other Americans traveling the routes of their own loved ones. “In some cases, it was World War II veterans,” said Miles. “After 60 years, (the main difference was that) everything had been rebuilt.” Since the trip ended, the Eckards have only felt the emotions more, they said. “When you’re on this kind of trip, you’re doing it. You don’t get to appreciate it,” said Beverly. “It was even more amazing when we got home.” Franklin was 35 when he first left the family farm in Burke County for training. Miles was only 6 years old when his father left.
This article and the associated photograph of Miles Eckard
were obtained (copied/pasted) from the on-line archives of the
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