by Mateo Biggs
A member of the Brackety-Ack herself, senior Charissa Roberson has been the editor of the Entertainment section for the past two years. A final request for Maroons here at Roanoke College is to partake in an event on Saturday, which will begin at 7 p.m. when attendees will be able to see living history and interactive exhibits in the Wortmann Ballroom — second floor of Colket Center, for those who do not know — up until 7:30 p.m. when the actual show will take place. This bilingual, multimedia show, which tells two stories from WWII, will have a big impact for those interested.
With a few moments of her time, Charissa was able to give the BA a few answers on some serious questions behind the show:
1) What exactly is the meaning behind your piece? What made you want to immortalize something many would want to forget?
My original goal was to put on a bilingual production in French and English. I was looking for a story to tell, and I started researching Normandy, France. Roanoke has a sister city there, Saint-Lô. I discovered two parallel stories: that of an American army major and a French resistance fighter. Both men were husbands and fathers to young children — both were ordinary men who rose to the call to fight for freedom. This production seeks to memorialize and honor the memory of these two men, who sacrificed bravely and selflessly for something greater than themselves. We need to remember what took place in the past so we can continue to learn from it.
2) How long has this been in the making for you?
I first had the idea back in freshman year, at the end of spring semester! Since then, the project has changed shape several times. So this final product has been almost three years in the making!
3) When the families reached out to you, was it a shock? Were you at all in any way expecting this?
I actually reached out to them (the Howie family)! I was given their contact info, and I was able to speak with them. Six of them are actually coming to the show! They amazed me with their generosity and interest in the project. It’s always tricky when you’re telling the story of someone else’s family member. You want to make sure you get it right, and it can be nerve-wracking to share it with the family. They shared many invaluable sources with me. I also got to speak to the granddaughter of the French resistance fighter! It was incredibly moving, and it made me feel so happy and blessed to know that this project was honoring the families of these two men.
4) Who else is a part of this show and how has it been working with them?
I have so many people who have helped me and supported me in this project: my faculty advisor Dr. Clifton and many more. I received a lot of help with the French translations from Dr. Clifton and from the president of Roanoke Valley Sister Cities. I am also working with several readers who will be part of the production, reading letters, speeches, articles and other quotations from people who lived during the time of these stories. The generosity and kindness of everyone involved has been seriously overwhelming and so appreciated.