The Freedom Valley Chronicles: Thanks And Giving – Part I

On this Thanksgiving Day, many will sit around a table with loved ones and friends to give thanks for those in their lives.

This is the first of five news columns that will highlight how thanks and giving can come from the most unlikely places and for the most unlikely reasons.

Aspects of these news columns may be difficult to read for some.

Details of war.

Details of suffering.

Some of the information may be difficult to comprehend.

Two people who dropped out of school – one who left on their own; one that was “asked” to leave.

Two German Nazi soldiers who helped save an American soldier.

Maggots that ate dead flesh and kept an American soldier alive.

An elected tax collector who didn’t perform well.

A handicapped individual attempting to get around a town built for individuals with all of their limbs in good working order.

But the aspects of courage, love, patience, and persistence that overcame difficulties may inspire those among us who sometimes feel sorry for ourselves.

That there is a way forward.

That there may be valleys – deep, deep valleys – along the way, but that there are ways to keep moving forward.

That sometimes, help comes from the most unlikely of sources.

That people who appear to be uneducated according to contemporary standards can sometimes be the most educated among us.

In the end, this is a love story.

Between two people.

And between one man and his family and the communities of Conshohocken and West Conshohocken (along with their neighbors).

The Abbey of Monte Cassino is seen overlooking the valley where a series of major battles took place during World War II.

Part II of this series of news columns will detail a battle in Italy. A horrific battle to free the Italian people from Nazi rule. A battle that left one of West Conshohocken’s own with grievous injuries. Part II will be published tonight.

Part III will focus on the love story between two sweethearts from West Conshohocken who decided that the wounds of war would not separate them. How one man and one woman helped give hope to each other as well as to a nation. Part III will be published tomorrow.

Part IV will explain the ups and downs – the human frailties – and the love between this family and their neighbors throughout the Freedom Valley. Part IV will be published on Saturday.

Part V will give a perspective from Jewish individuals on how human compassion and kindness could occur in the midst of a hellish situation. Part V will be published on Sunday.

These news columns may give you hope and give you reason to offer thanks on this Thanksgiving Day Holiday Weekend.

The photograph of Monte Cassino is courtesy of Mr. Robert Welsh, 2009.

Do you have questions about local history? A street name? A building?
Your questions may be used in a future news column.

Contact Richard McDonough at

© 2018 Richard McDonough