German Day at Heritage School Recounts the Past

PHOTO: T.A. Graydon - NewsPlus

The American and German Flags wave together with the silhouette of the Statue of Liberty shining through on “German Day” at the Heritage School, Phelan.

Turning the clock back to 1989, Heritage Middle School’s Builder’s Club and the Tri-Community Kiwanis presented “German Day” on May 24, 2023, in the Heritage School Multipurpose Room, displaying a fine collection of Cold War artifacts and military apparel from the Berlin Wall uniformed officers and soldiers. Reflecting on this dark period in modern history by sharing true life encounters, host, author, and Heritage School educator, Todd Anton, collaborating with Dr. Marc Voss, Founder and Executive Director of the REGIMES Museum, assembled a time capsule of 20th Century history, to remember, and learn from.

Heritage School Teacher Todd Anton, Dr. Marc Voss, and Prof. Heather Moore of the REGIMES Museum revue Cold War uniforms and artifacts.

Walking the audience down a horrific “memory lane,” Todd Anton described his experience in the hands of East German Officers and his imprisonment behind the Berlin Wall in the late 1980s. REGIMES Museum Curator Marc Voss described the mind-altering procedures used on those incarcerated by the communist guards. The REGIMES Museum’s mission to make such tactics obsolete through education and awareness is absolute. Dr. Marc Voss and his colleague Professor Heather Moore have assembled this collection of pieces for their historical value and the social importance of what they represent.

Robert Velez shows off his 1970 Volkswagen Transporter.

Highlighting German pride in craftsmanship, the Riverside Chapter of the Porsche Club of America (PCA) delivered a fine collection of the famous car manufacturer’s sports cars. These high-end vehicles were displayed on the Heritage Middle School playground, just downwind from the Bar-B-Que bratwurst sausages and homemade root beer. Also representing German ingenuity was a red 1970 Volkswagen Transporter, whose proud owner Robert Velez says his pristine VW bus “Usually gets a lot of attention, even amongst all the fancy sports cars.” Representing no political position other than the right balance of sugar in their soda party, Collin, Lauren, and Kendall Rowe proudly transported their root beer keg filled with their foamy secret. The homemade root beer was a delightful diversion from the profoundly serious topic at hand, the Berlin Wall, and for what it stood.

The American and German flags flank the Statue of Liberty with the Berlin Wall Memorial just behind Old Glory, in a beautiful setting at the Heritage School in Phelan.

When asked what she liked about these after-school events, Heritage School Principal Debbie Arbizu stated, “I like bringing the parents and children together in a hands-on experience, learning real-world history with the community.” The campus of the Heritage school also has a permanent homage to Democracy in the form of a scaled-down Statue of Liberty at the American Flagpole with a Berlin Wall Memorial alongside “Old Glory.” On the memorial are the names of two deceased prisoners, one arrested en route to a “Beatles” concert and died in captivity, and a man who would have survived incarceration if he had held on for a few more hours when the Berlin Wall finally came down.

Cadet Corpsman Flint Yegge is military material.

Providing a secure and safe environment, the Cadet Corps was on hand in uniform, keeping order and providing security for the valuable museum artifacts on display in the multipurpose room, which was now adorned with historical flags, banners, and items of “Cold War” interest. Keller Williams of Phelan and the Tri-Community Kiwanis Club did an excellent job organizing and publicizing this event. The turnout was well-reflected, with the bratwurst selling out and a good size crowd in attendance. As Harvard Philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Truly, these words verify the need for such occasions as “German Day.”

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