While many of you were tailgating — or maybe stuck in traffic — before the U.Va.-Penn State football game on Saturday, history was meeting new technology at the Darden School. And in Mystic, Conn.
The occasion was the first videoconference meeting of the 100th Infantry Division Association, a World War II veterans’ group.
Bob Fayer, a former Darden professor, is the national president of the group. He offered a little history lesson on the 100th and its veterans.
The 100th was a hand-picked unit of highly trained, well-educated men, formed in 1942 and deployed to Europe after D-Day, in the fall of 1944. They battled their way through France and into Germany, and participated in what Fayer described as the last major U.S. battle against German forces in Europe, an 11-day affair in Heilbronn.
After serving in the occupation of Germany, most of the members dispersed to civilian life — though a few had long careers in the Army, Thayer said. Many did very well for themselves, becoming doctors, lawyers, politicians and professors.
Soon after their return to the States, they formed the 100th Infantry Division Association to maintain the bonds forged in war. The members blocked off the second week of September every year for 65 years for the association’s conventions.
But time has taken its toll on the Greatest Generation. Ten years ago, the association had 3,000 to 4,000 members, Fayer said. Today, the ranks have dwindled to about 800. Fayer is a relatively young pup at 87; many of the members are on the other side of 90. Travel has become difficult, and the conventions have ceased. It looked as if these men, so loyal to one another over the years, might never see one another again — at least not on this Earth.
That’s where a company called easymeeting.net comes in. The 100th Infantry Division Association’s eastern region head, William Glazier, lives near the company’s Mystic, Conn. headquarters. The company invited Glazier and a knot of vets in the Mystic area to its offices to teleconference with Fayer, who linked in from Darden.
Glazier, speaking from Connecticut the day before the videoconference, called the event “very exciting.”
“Now our members won’t have to travel by planes, trains, cars and bus to have face-to-face meetings. This type of thing might be the future in coming years,” he said, adding he hoped that next September the conference call could include groups in the Midwest and West.
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