Memorial Day Remembrance

I hope you all have a special Memorial Day in the US, remembering those whose lives were sacrificed for our freedom. Last June, I was in arctic Norway on the Veines Peninsula out for a run in the middle of a fog. Miles from anyone, I stumbled across the remnants of a German WWII fort and gun battery that had been constructed in 1942. It was one of the most humbling experiences. At the time, I did not know what I had stumbled across and only had my iPhone with me to take photos. Later, I came across this information back at the guesthouse where I was staying. It detailed the war weapons housed at this German fort.

After exploring the outside of the bunker shown in the top photo, I entered it and saw several old photos on the walls of the bunker. Most had broken glass frames but this one was still intact. The images were quite damaged from weather over the years.

I saw that the bunker had stairs leading down into the ground. It was scary, but I decided to explore them and went down these stairs.

When I got down to the bottom, I looked back up and took a photo. You can see the top of the picture frame from the photo above that was hanging on the wall in the bunker.

When I turned back around to continue through the passageway, I came to a room.

Inside the room was a lot of debris as well as another damaged photo. I couldn’t make out most of what I saw since it was pitch black and I used flash just to capture these photos. Since I didn’t know much about this location, I didn’t want to stay down in these tunnels for long in the dark.

I had goosebumps as made it back out. I explored the area some more and found the open rings where I have since learned that 5 French 155 mm caliber guns were installed.

I came across some more entrances and decided to explore the tunnels.

Again it was dark as night and all I had was my iPhone flashlight. I found another deep tunnel.

I got a closer look and decided not to explore further. I was’t sure of the stability of anything, and since this was such a remote location in arctic Norway, I doubted that much was done to check the safety of these tunnels. Since I stumbled across this area without seeing a person around, I knew that there was no active preservation of this historical site. If I were to get in trouble at any point, I would not have anyone to rescue me. I played it safe.

As we celebrate Memorial Day in the US today, I couldn’t help but remember this experience. It was a special moment in my life and gave me a lot of gratitude for those who lost their life not only in WWII but in all the wars to help us be free. We express our appreciation and thanks to those who serve and have lost their lives, but seeing this in person gave me a greater sense of the freedoms we often take for granted.

Author: Dr. Amy Novotny

Amy Novotny is a physical therapist, marathon/ultra runner and nature photographer. She treats patients for a variety of conditions but specializes in chronic pain and calming an overactive nervous system using special diaphragmatic breathing. She has used this technique to help her qualify and run in four Boston marathons! She enjoys the outdoors and can often be found running and hiking on trails in throughout Arizona. She attempts to capture the beauty of nature with her photography both locally in Arizona and also throughout the United States. She is becoming more interested in wildlife photography and attempting to capture the emotion of animal interactions. In her spare time, Amy volunteers as a photo guide for the Arizona Highways PhotoScapes nonprofit and shares her joy of nature with others. Please feel free to contact her regarding her photography, physical therapy or running.

16 thoughts on “Memorial Day Remembrance”

  1. My jaw is still hanging open Amy. Such an experience for you. Such good photos you preserved those moments with. Such good smarts to not explore further despite the temptation of wanting to know more. There are still places in this world that can be harsh and lonely and this certainly is one of them. Thanks for sharing this today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Leisa! It still gets to me when I think about that day and those hours out alone exploring the fort and bunkers. I felt a chill come over me when I went from one remnant to another. I wished there was more information on it but at the same time, I imagine it stays in this condition because not many people know about it. Only the weather wears it down over the years.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this story Amy. It seems you exhibited the proper amount of safety precaution while satisfying a bit of significant curiosity and interest it created. I too would have been drawn into exploring. Thanks again! Keep leading! TC

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tim! Yes, sometimes it’s good to push the limits and sometimes we have to know when to put on the brakes. If I had had several others with me (some who know how to explore tunnels and caves) and some good lights, it would have been wonderful to go deep into the trenches and tunnels. Gratitude was definitely in my thoughts for many weeks after seeing what others went through for us.

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    1. Thanks Jeff! Yes, better to have a little bit of a story than to disappear completely. I’m glad I got to experience a part of history that made war a little bit more real to me. I’m very grateful to others for what they’ve done for us.

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  3. Thank you for sharing.     Very interesting place you found.  But you were smart to get out when you did.  There might have been land mines!    Where in Norway were you?

    I’m going to Svalbard in June. Hugs to you dear Amy. Vicky

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Vicky! I was on the Varanger peninsula in the northern part on the mainland. I didn’t make it to Svalbard but that is on my bucket list! You are one lucky lady! Hugs!

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  4. Your photos give a sense of history. A few years ago I took photos of the huge holes left by the mortar shells of the allied ships in attempts to blow the up the axis troop’s impenetrable bunker facing the soldiers on the beach. It was a shocking experience. How the heck did anyone make it up those cliffs?
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. I really like your photos and narrative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Chris! Wow. I bet those photos you took really made an impact on you. When we are away from war, we don’t realize how horrible it is. I know at times it is necessary but the destruction it causes is horrifying.

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