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History takes on new meaning for UCHS students

Students at Unicoi County High School received a glimpse of World War II last week through the eyes of someone who lived it. The students, who have been studying the subject, got to hear Erwin Nine member George Hatcher speak.
The stage of the UCHS auditorium featured only a table, chair and Hatcher. The table held pictures of the nine and other mementos, if they could be called that, showing Hatcher and what became of him after spending over a year as a prisoner of war.
He was asked by teachers to come and tell his story to the students, to put a face on a war long past, only visible through books and film.
He began the way he usually does, modest but proud, saying he was told the best thing he can do is tell his story, but, he quickly pointed out, he is no hero.
“I am no hero,” Hatcher said. “ I am just one of 14 million young Americans who volunteered for service in World War II.”
He told the students the reason he tells his story is for catharsis. After suffering from nightmares throughout his life, Hatcher said he was told by doctors to tell his story, and he did, and does, to this day.
And so it went, Hatcher started from his enlistment after the bombing of Pearl Harbor to his eventual liberation as a prisoner of war.
He was blunt with details when taking about his experience, talking as only a soldier who experienced the tragedy of confinement first hand.
“I never really knew what hunger was,” Hatcher said.
He talked about the German prison camps in which he was imprisoned, telling students of the rats for roommates and moldy bread for food.
He did not seem sad of his recollection of the situation though, telling is as something of a test his faith helped him pass.
Hatcher did pass, he told the audience, when he was finally liberated over a year later. He had lost 34 pounds, and weighed an anemic 134, but he was free he said.
“I knew the time had come for me to be liberated,” Hatcher said.
Those in the audience asked a few questions after he was finished speaking, but they were all excited to come on stage and see the war through his collection of photographs and documents.
Hatcher once again told his story that afternoon, and the students learned all the more for it.