A skinny 18 year old
"Powerful and Indellible"
Louis Zamperini, famous WW II hero
Acknowledgments by George Ciampa
"A beautiful, moving film about the courage and sacrifice of so many young Americans in your generation in the defense of our freedom."
-Ronald de Langhe, Consulate General of Belgium
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction....It must be fought for, protected, and handed on to them (future generations) to do the same."
Without the inspiration from my daughter, Sandi Rusconi, these documentaries would not have been a reality. From the day she accompanied her brother and my wife and I when we went to Normandy for the 50th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1994, she has been interested in filming a documentary about FREEDOM.
During a trip to Belgium in 2001, she met me and my wife there armed with a camcorder to interview Belgian citizens who lived during the Nazi occupation and filmed the Remember Museum, interviewed the owners and operators, Mathilde and Marcel Schmetz as well as others. She had me on camera to talk about my experience in five campaigns in Europe during WW II, while in the 607th Graves Registration Company. Filming was done in Belgium in a wooded bivouac area from where we operated, while gathering the dead from the battlefields of the Battle of the Bulge. Burials were made at the temporary Henri Chapelle Cemetery adjacent to the woods next to our bivouac area. The permanent site of the cemetery was filmed and she gleaned from me information about our operations---- how, when and where the transition was made from the temporary to the permanent site. This was the beginning of what was to later become a professionally filmed documentary by the capable Outpost Worldwide, Kansas City, KS, with Sandi Rusconi as the director.
I have been receiving many accolades regarding the documentary, ostensibly because I AM THE WW II VETERAN, but my daughter was/is the driving force, so to speak. Thank you Sandi for your conception and long hours in the planning and pre production. Not forgetting my son, Michael and my wife, Dottie who together with Sandi, motivated me to go to Normandy 50 years later--- to start talking and answering questions about my small part in World War II.
I would like to give praise to two other people who helped to make this happen. Paul Herbert, of the Cantigny First Division Foundation who suggested taking history teachers and veterans to Belgium and Dr. John Schmitt, Associate Superintendent of the Torrance Unified School District who gave his total support, encouragement and selected the teachers who participated.
Please see the credits in the documentary for all the others who were so important in making the film a success. My thanks and gratitude to all of them.
"This is one hell of a good documentary. I nominate you for a Academy Award for Best Documentary"
-Robert Browning, Laguna Beach, CA
Click on any documentary to learn more
George Ciampa in St. Lo, France July 1944
… “Loved it”
-John Bogert, columnist, Daily Breeze.
… “Congratulations on your project. You should be proud.”
-Sandra Evers-Manly---Vice President, Ethics and Diversity, Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Presenting Sponsor of “Let Freedom Ring”.
In August of 2006, George took four Southern California high school history teachers and two First Division "Battle of the Bulge" veterans to Belgium. The purpose was to enlighten the teachers about the hardships of the Belgian people who lived under the Nazi occupation as well as hear the experiences of the veterans who fought the Nazis. The tour was filmed for what would become the documentary, "Let Freedom Ring...The Lesson is Priceless".
George's documentary was released in 2007 to rave reviews and a great success. It was featured in the G.I. Film Festival, shown across the country on over 90 PBS stations, and the Pentagon Channel. George Ciampa would cement his new role in life as a documentary filmmaker producing 4 more films over the course of the last 10 years. All of this was done while he single-handedly financed, produced/directed, and distributed his own films. As such, these documentaries were shown to a vast audience and continue to be shown worldwide.
Let Freedom Ring for all...
a new mission
Six decades later at the age of 81, George knew he wanted to pass on the history of this era as it is not commonly known by many younger Americans and others. That people too often in modern society take freedom for granted and never realize that there is always a chance for it to be taken away. As when he was 18, he saw how people in Europe lost their freedom as Nazi Germany occupied their countries.
In June 2006, Ciampa created LET FREEDOM RING, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization with the main goal to educate today's generation on the importance of FREEDOM and to never forget those men and women he helped to bury. "Today's generation cannot be complacent about the security of our freedom that so many servicemen and women have died for over the years." said Ciampa.
George decided in order to accomplish his mission, he would need to make a documentary including young high school history teachers for the purpose of passing on their education to their students. Then came the never ending effort to raise funds to make the documentary. This was his new mission. Thankfully, Northrop Grumman would provide a substantial donation to become the major contributor in order to get the first documentary off the ground.
LET FREEDOM RING
"I choked back sobs throughout. NO ONE can watch the film and not be moved...I was - and still am - completely overwhelmed by your film. It's a masterpiece!"
-Debbie Tenzer, owner, doonenicething.com
"You should be proud of all that you accomplished....you do a great job of reminding those young and old of the sacrifices that were made..."
-Don Knabe, Supervisor, Fourth District County of Los Angeles
… “It’s a great documentary, it’s a jewel—it provokes a lot of emotion indeed; it gives a strong message in a strong format. You accomplished a real “tour de force”. Congratulations to you, (your daughter) Sandi and the whole team.”
-Frank Geerkens---Belgian Government Official.
"...It is so moving and touching, it's not Hollywood, it's the reality, the real people who suffered so much and the real liberators. Your DVD shows the sufferings of all these men and women. It's impossible to watch it without having tears in your eyes..."
-Mathilde and Marcel Schmetz, Owners and creators of the Remember Museum 39-45. (Featured in the documentary)
Freedom isn't free
These crosses and Stars of David at the Henri-Chapelle cemetery mark the graves of 7,992 American solders who died in the region near Homburg, Belgium. Many of them were killed during the "Battle of the Bulge" which was the largest-ever battle fought by the U.S. Army from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945. This cemetery pictured, Henri-Chapelle, was initially situated nearby as a temporary cemetery after the area was liberated September 11, 1944 by the United States Army's 1st Division. Handling of the dead was carried out by the 607th Graves Registration Company. At its peak, there were over 17,000 American soldiers in the temporary cemetery before 60 percent of them were returned home at the request of the next of kin in 1947, two years after the war.
Each one of these crosses represent a young man or woman, who gave their life protecting what every man and woman on this earth cherishes the most, FREEDOM. Without these brave men and women, the world would be a different place.
On June 6, 1944, Army Private 1st Class George Ciampa was 10 days shy of 19, couldn't swim, and barely 115 pounds when his Higgins Boat landed on Utah Beach for the D-Day Normandy Invasion. He was with the 607th Graves Registration Company, which had the gruesome and solemn task of collecting, documenting and burying fellow dead American soldiers, as well as the German enemy. All while initiating 17 temporary cemeteries along the way in France, Belgium, and Germany. One of them which became the permanent Henri-Chapelle cemetery above.
For 11 months, from when his boots touched the sand at Normandy up until the end of the war, George saw death in the eyes of young soldiers. It was his job and it was estimated that his company, in total, handled 75,000 bodies. He saw the ultimate sacrifices of these young men--ages of 18, 19, 20--who gave all in the name of freedom. It would forever leave a lasting impact and he would never forget.
LET FREEDOM RING Documentary Collection