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When History Comes to Life

When History Comes to Life

Simran Ahuja ’28, a history buff, had the chance to meet his real-life hero this spring: a World War II veteran.

Simran Ahuja ’28 loves history—specifically, World War II history. He is a voracious reader of World War II books and even received “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William L. Shirer for his 13th birthday. When he finished the seminal 1,250-page book some two months later, he had another experience waiting for him—the chance to meet one of his heroes, a real-life World War II veteran.

Simran Ahuja poses for a photo with his hero, Gerry, a WW2 veteran.

Simran Ahuja '28 (left) alongside his hero, Gerry, a WWII veteran.


Ahuja’s English teacher at USM, Anne Davis, arranged for him to meet Army veteran and Milwaukee Catholic Home resident Gerry (last name withheld for patient privacy) in January. Although nearly 80 years has passed since his deployment with an Army support unit in Belgium from 1943 to 1945, Gerry, who is 102 years old, remembered his experience well. 
“I think it meant a lot to him that this young man had such an interest in what he had done in his life,” said Davis, who received assistance from Milwaukee Catholic Home volunteer Barb Johnson in arranging the visit.

Ahuja has been studying World War II since 5th grade, and especially likes to learn about the encirclements and battles resulting from Germany’s invasion of the USSR. “I just think the whole thing is so interesting,” he said. “It really changed the course of history.” He completed a project for his English class about whether the allies could have stopped Hitler in the years leading up to the war. “Easily they could have,” said Ahuja.

Simran Ahuja and his family talk with Gerry, a WW2 veteran, about his experiences in the war.

Simran Ahuja '28 (bottom left) and his family talk with Gerry, a WWII veteran, about his experiences in the war.


“Simran has a perspective that’s so deep because he has read so much,” said Davis, whose own father fought during World War II. “So it’s not your average 7th grader’s take on World War II because he’s had this depth of study.”

As for Ahuja, was he nervous to meet his hero? “Not at all,” he said. “It was a dream come true.”  
 

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