Matti does a fantastic job paying tribute to Virgil Tangborn at his gravesite in the American Cemetery in Normandy, France. 

Read the letter Matti left at Virgil's Gravesite


07/04/2013 9:05pm

After watching this beautiful tribute to Virgil my hope and faith for the future of humanity is restored. To know that young people care and remember the sacrifices made 69 years later gives my soul a sense of peace. Thank you.

07/04/2013 9:14pm

I am glad that I waited until July 4th to watch this for the first time since the day we were at the cemetery. It is still just as powerful, and the last paragraph of Matti's letter perfectly captures the essence of Virgil's sacrifice as well as the meaning of days like today.

Thanks for posting!

07/04/2013 10:49pm

Dear Mattie,

Thank you for the beautiful tribute to Virgil that you wrote and then read with such deep feeling and emotion. It is comforting for me to know that he has not been forgotten.

Roberta Post
07/05/2013 9:11am

Could you ever have imagined, you, your parents and family, the impact your brother would have that is so ongoing. It brings extra special meaning to the phrase, not to have died in vain.

07/05/2013 9:37am

Dear Mattie,
Thank you for your heartfelt tribute to Virgil. You captured him so well, and we are so moved to hear this eulogy in his honor.

Cynthia Ellis
07/07/2013 9:51am

Dear Mattie -- I have known of Virgil for many years through my relationship with Wendell and Andrea. Because of your words, I now have a clearer picture of this amazing man. I was deeply moved by your compassion for Virgil, your wonderful articulation of what he meant to the world and to you, and your commitment to honoring our brave soldiers and their families.

Patricia Tangborn
07/07/2013 10:24am

I am married to Virgil's nephew and have heard so much about Virgil for many years and I want to thank you for your awesome tribute you paid to him. It makes me feel like I know him better.

Douglas Tangborn
07/07/2013 10:29am

I am Virgil's nephew and enjoyed Matti's eulogy to Virgil very much. Nice job!!

Paula and Nick Mattila
07/07/2013 5:58pm

As Matti's maternal grandparents, we are so very proud of her and her tribute to Virgil. Her grandpa, as a Viet Nam veteran, is especially appreciative anytime a veteran is honored in any way and she did a beautiful job!

Eric Tangborn
07/12/2013 8:15pm

Dear Matti,

Thank you for the nice comments about my uncle. You did a very beautiful job.

Susan Leonelli Tangborn
07/12/2013 8:28pm

Dear Matti,
Your efforts to better understand Virgil as a young man really brought him to life for those of us who never met him. Virgil would have been honored to have such a beautifully prepared, heartfelt tribute. Thank you and best wishes to you.

Ann Teplick
07/14/2013 11:26am

This is such a beautiful tribute to Virgil and beautifully delivered by Matti. I learned so much! May we always reach beyond statistics to celebrate, honor, and remember.

Berdie Krimmel
07/15/2013 10:00pm

Thank you for sharing this touching video by this young woman about your brother. As painful as if must be, I hope that the remembrance and recognition outweigh reliving the sorrow. The losses are all our losses. I’m glad that these stay fresh in our collective experience and feel it is important to pass these memories onto future generations. I forwarded the link on to Steph and Craig. I know they will appreciate it as well – having experienced the Normandy cemeteries themselves.

Allan Sonsteng
07/25/2013 2:19pm

Thank you, Wendell, for forwarding Matti's tribute to Virgil. It is really nice that a young person is willing to get involved in remembering someone that they have never known. Allan

Virginia, MN

Steve Werle
07/30/2013 12:27pm

Thank you so much for sharing Matti’s beautiful tribute with me. What a remarkably poised and wise young woman! I continue to share Virgil’s story with my history students year after year, and they are always moved by his words and actions. He is such a fine example of the many unique elements that make up the human condition – freedom, choice, sacrifice, sorrow, redemption and memory. I am so glad his story is continuing to reach young people.

Steve Werle
Minneapolis, MN

Gunilla Hallberg
08/05/2013 9:38am

Dear Wendell,

thank you so much for your mail with the address to the memorial of Virgil Tangborn. It was very interesting to see the young woman and listen to her reading her letter with so much true emotion and respect.

Toulouse, France

Rob Crawford
08/20/2013 11:11am

Hi Wendell,

I just watched Matti's eulogy for Virgil. Very moving! I loved hearing the things she said about his life and aspirations. Thanks for sending.

Robert Crawford,
Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
University of Washington, Tacoma
1900 Commerce Street
Tacoma, WA 98402
Phone: (253) 692-4460

09/17/2013 4:47pm

Dear Matti and Ron;

I have enjoyed the story you have told about Virgil so much. I'd never heard about Virgil until 1995 when I met Wendell, Virgil's brother. As Wendell and I got to know each other, I heard more and more about Virgil. I could barely visualize how spartan life must have been in Northern Minnesota in the 1930's but here was this high school, Virgil, who made the family shut down on Saturday mornings in the winter so he could listen to the Saturday Morning Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts on his battery-radio. Virgil finally let me read Virgil's journal. What an am azing young man to come out of this undernourished environment--hard-working, intelligent, and oh so curious (these three adjectives could also apply to Virgil's brother, Wendell). His death so near the end of the war seemed like such a tragic waste to me. But the amazing thing to me was that I thought Virgil, even though I was only 2 years old when he died, could have been good friends if the circumstances had permitted. Several summers ago Henri LeFauvre (sp?) and his wife and his son, Christian, came to Washington to visit Wendell and his wife, Andrea. We were invited to meet these French visitors at a nice picnic by the water. Before our picnic, Wendell raised the 48-star flag his family had been given after Virgil's death on a flagpole he had especially built for this occasion. After the flag was raised, Andrea read a poem she had written and several people spoke. My speech was brief--I said I felt, thanks to Wendell's stories and Virgil's journal, like Virgil was a brother I had never gotten to know. And now, here is this magnificent presentation about your remarkable journey to Normandy to research this fine young American. I want you to know that, thanks to your presentation of your trip to France, I feel even closer to Virgil that I have ever felt before. Your presentation will never be erased from my screen. For this I am very grateful.

All the best, your friend in Seattle,
Norm Hollingshead

10/02/2013 11:11pm

For this I am very grateful.


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