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1943 and America’s Nazi/Soviet Conundrum and Standing Proudly On Deformed Feet

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
June 23, 2022 3:05 am

1943 and America’s Nazi/Soviet Conundrum and Standing Proudly On Deformed Feet

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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June 23, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Stephen Ambrose shares a WWII story beginning in January of 1943 with the Soviet victory over the Nazis at Stalingrad and ending with the Allied resolution of Unconditional Surrender. Chloe Howard, Author of Stand Beautiful: A Story Of Brokenness, Beauty and Embracing It All, shares her story of what it was like growing up with a club foot.

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Time Codes:

00:00 - 1943 and America’s Nazi/Soviet Conundrum

23:00 - Standing Proudly On Deformed Feet

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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They're some of our favorites. Stephen Ambrose was one of America's leading biographers and historians. At the core of Ambrose's phenomenal success is his simple and straightforward belief that history is biography. History is about people, he would always say.

Ambrose passed in 2002, but his epic storytelling accounts can now be heard here at Our American Stories, thanks to those who run his estate. Today we will be hearing the story from early 1943 during World War II. Let's jump right in with a Soviet victory over the Nazis at the Battle of Stalingrad. 1943 got off to a great start for the Allied cause, because at the end of January, General von Paulus surrendered at Stalingrad. The Red Army took a bag of 250,000 prisoners, had probably killed and wounded another half million German soldiers in this titanic struggle at Stalingrad, and had lost themselves, the Red Army, a million men.

But, of course, the Red Army could make up those manpower losses in a way that the Germans could not. So Stalingrad was the pivot point of the war. After Stalingrad, there really was not much of any question as to who was going to win this war. The questions now were how long is it going to take, what price is going to have to be paid, and increasingly among the Allies, Britain and the United States and the Soviet Union in this very strange alliance.

Who's going to get what at the end of the war? Stalingrad, from the military side in the Second World War, was the great battle and the decisive battle. After Stalingrad, the Germans never again took the offensive on the Eastern Front. Having said all that, and adding to that, Americans need to remember always that eight out of every ten Wehrmacht soldiers killed in the Second World War were killed by the Red Army. That doesn't mean by any stretch that the Red Army won the war by itself. But it does mean that they made a contribution without which Britain and America could never have won the war. Indeed, the truth of the Second World War is that no two of the three great Allies were sufficiently strong to defeat Germany. Britain and the Soviet Union together couldn't have done it. The United States and the Soviet Union without Britain couldn't have done it.

It took all three. January 1943 also saw the great wartime conference, the second of them, the first had been the Arcadia Conference at the end of 1941. At the beginning of 1943, the second great conference between the Western Allies took place at Casablanca in Morocco. Roosevelt and his staff met with Churchill and his staff to plan operations for 1943. At these meetings, the first thing the Americans said to the British was, Well, of course you understand that having mounted torch and put all of this strength that we have into North Africa, Roundup, the 1943 invasion of France, is definitely off.

We don't have the resources to do that. Churchill was astonished, or said he was, to hear this. And whether he was telling the truth or not can't be said. The announcement to Stalin that there was not going to be a second front in 1943 left the Soviet dictator just shaking with rage. He had been demanding a second front ever since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941. Now, you meet Russians today who talk about why was there this terrible long delay before the second front was mounted. And of course we won the war, the Russians will tell you.

More or less by ourselves, and you guys didn't even dare come in until we had utterly defeated the Wehrmacht and there was just a shell of the force that Hitler bragged was an army such as the world has never seen by the time you guys came into the real war in 1944. But here, I can't forbear saying that it really came hard to hear Stalin begging for a second front in 1942 and 1943. The French could have said, well, where the hell was the second front in 1940? When Hitler was overrunning France, what were you guys doing? That's when the second front should have been launched.

You should have been attacking the Germans instead of cooperating with them, instead of entering into an alliance with them. Well, leaving that aside, Stalin obviously wasn't going to be embarrassed by his past actions. Stalin was in a desperate situation. The Soviet Union was taking horrendous casualties. The Germans had occupied very large parts of the Soviet empire. And Stalin desperately needed to have the pressure taken off him. He was fighting up to 200 German and allied divisions on the eastern front.

And so naturally he demanded the opening of a second front. Churchill had tried to persuade Stalin that the campaign in North Africa was a genuine opening of a second front. But to Stalin that was utterly unacceptable. The Germans never had more than three divisions in North Africa. North Africa was clearly not going to be a decisive theater in this war. Russia very much still had her back against the wall. Even after the victory at Stalingrad, the Soviet Union was no longer on its last legs. But the price of taking on the Wehrmacht by themselves was going to be very high.

And he was desperate to get, Stalin was, to get a second front opened in France to force the Germans to transfer divisions from their eastern front over to France to take the pressure off the Russians. And you're listening to Stephen Ambrose tell the story of a year, 1943, a critical year in World War II. When we come back, more of Stephen Ambrose, here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country.

Stories from our big cities and small towns. But we truly can't do the show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to OurAmericanStories.com and click the donate button.

Give a little, give a lot. Go to OurAmericanStories.com and give. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

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Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we continue with our American stories and we last left off with President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill meeting for a second time during the war in January of 1943 in Casablanca in Morocco to plan operations for that year. Let's pick up where we last left off with Stephen Ambrose. Now, a combination of things came together here at this Casablanca meeting. First of all, the decision we're not going to have a second front in 1943 and somebody's got to explain this to Stalin.

And I pause there to make this point. When I say had to explain it to Stalin, what I mean is the great fear on the part of the Western allies in World War II was always that Stalin would make a separate piece. And you would go back to the situation that prevailed before June of 1941, that is, to all practical purposes, Germany and the Soviet Union would be allies.

If that happened, there wasn't a chance in the world that the United States and Britain could invade France against all of Hitler's strength. And there were some fears came out from Berlin in the fall of 1942 as the Stalingrad battle was beginning. And they continued through the winter of 1942-43 of the Germans wondering if Stalin would be interested in a separate piece. And it had a certain appeal to Stalin, especially if he felt, as he was beginning to feel or increasingly was feeling, that the Western allies were willing to sell the Soviet Union down the river. Or more precisely, the Western allies were perfectly happy to watch Nazis killing communists and communists killing Nazis. And he was right to feel that way because an awful lot of people in the Western world did think exactly that. Not, however, the leaders, especially not the military leaders, all of whom realized that if you tried to play that game, the Nazis would very likely win the war. And if they did, they would then take over the world. And if they didn't, the communists were going to win the war and they would end up with all of the resources, especially the human resources, of Western Europe under their control.

And that wouldn't be a world that we would want to live in either. But as between the two dangers, a Nazi-dominated Europe or a communist-dominated Europe, Roosevelt and Churchill and Marshall and Allenbrooke and Eisenhower and all of the leaders of the great alliance of Britain and the United States were in agreement that a Nazi victory would be worse. I think in retrospect that time has proven them right. We now reach the point in world history in which both of those isms are in the ax can of history. Nazism has been gone since 1945 and now communism is gone. If World War II had turned out the other way, with the Nazis victorious in Europe, I don't know how we ever got rid of the Nazis. I don't think that they would have withered on the vine in the way that the communists did or that their own people would have turned against them.

Well, that's a lot of speculation. Anyway, Stalin in 1943 wanted a second front and he wasn't going to get one. And this was a tough one to explain to him. And that fear that he would make a separate peace was very real. Oh, and I should add that Stalin also had complaints about the Darlan deal. His attitude was the first time the Americans go to the offensive in this war, within a day of the attack, they've cut a deal with a fascist general, or in this case, Admiral, Admiral Darlan. And Stalin wondered aloud to the American ambassador, what does this mean that when you get into Germany, you're going to cut a deal with Germany's generals?

I don't like the smell of this at all. To reassure Stalin, both as to America's determination to stay in this war to the end and America's commitment to the Soviet Union as an ally, but more specifically to guarantee to Stalin that there would be no more Darlan deals, that we would not get into a cooperative mode with the German generals, urging them to overthrow Hitler and then we'll deal with you. Roosevelt came up with a wholly new concept in war.

That decision and that concept also came from, it had many, many parents. That also came out of avoiding the mistake the allies, and particularly Woodrow Wilson, made in 1918. Roosevelt wanted to make certain that the Germans would never again be able to claim that they were stabbed in the back. He wanted the Germans to understand that they had been beaten. And he came up with the formula called unconditional surrender. From Casablanca, he issued a pronouncement, seconded by Churchill, calling on or setting as the objective for the allies in the Second World War, the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers, Italy, Germany, and Japan. Now what this meant, nobody knew. Nobody had ever asked for an unconditional surrender before.

And it raised a lot of questions. Well, who's going to be running Germany after she surrenders? Where's the government going to come from?

What kind of a system do you intend to impose on her? And of course, the strange alliance, it could be that the Russians would get a part of Germany. And this unconditional surrender from Germany would mean that the Russians could impose on the Germans, or at least that part of Germany that they occupied, their system. Presumably the Americans and the British would impose their system on the other part of Germany.

How could that ever work out? Well, nobody had an answer to that at the time. Unconditional surrender has received a lot of criticism because of its vagueness, and because of the argument that it forced the Germans and the Japanese to fight on when the fight was hopeless, so that it cost a lot of American and British lives. That had a formula for a surrender been worked out, you could have had a much earlier surrender, and to save a great deal of the destruction of the Second World War. And the problem with that argument is, how can anyone imagine a scenario in which the German generals managed to get rid of Hitler?

So long as Hitler was around, there was no possibility of dealing with him. And in fact, Roosevelt, in the unconditional surrender announcement, made it clear that there was something else that Wilson hadn't done, that we were going to put war criminals on trial. There was going to be punishment for the guilty Nazis. Now that, of course, made the guilty Nazis fight all that much harder. And it made all Germans fight that much harder because unconditional surrender gave the Goebbels, the propaganda minister, an ideal tool with which to whip up sentiment within Germany to get the old men to tuck their beards into their shirts and pick up a rifle and go out and fight, and to get the young boys to do the same, because there was a lot of loose talk in the United States. There were a couple of senators who were talking about we ought to castrate all German males. And Goebbels was able to pick up on that and tell the German people, that's what unconditional surrender is going to mean.

Well, it sure makes a man fight when he hears something like that. The other side of it, though, is unconditional surrender had a clearness to it. A wiping the slate clean so that when it was all over, you could start to rebuild a new Germany, whether on the Russian model or on the American model, you could start to build a new Germany. And it also had a positive effect on morale within the United States. But most of all, the audience for unconditional surrender wasn't the American people, and it wasn't even so much policy towards the German people as it was a reassurance to Stalin.

We're not going to deal with any more fascists. And we're in this to the bitter end. And a great job editing that piece by Greg Hengler. And a special thanks to the Ambrose Estate for allowing us to use the audio of their father. And he died in 2002, but we at Our American Stories want to keep his voice alive.

It is such an important voice. By the way, the World War II Museum, Stephen Ambrose helped start that. It's in New Orleans. Pay a visit. Go online. Listen to the stories. Hands down, the best museum in this country.

Stephen Ambrose, the story of 1943 and unconditional surrender terms fashioned by Roosevelt, the pros and the cons, here on Our American Stories. Music Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. Music I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So, if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So, the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we continue with our American stories. And up next, we have the story of Chloe Howard. She's a 21-year-old junior at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. Chloe has written two books and has spoken internationally and all before graduating high school.

Here's Chloe with her story. I've had nine surgeries or nine major surgeries. I, for the past 20 years, have lived with a very severe congenital foot deformity. So, when I was born, my foot was upside down and backwards. I had my first surgery when I was six months old and then my most recent surgery, December of 2018. And a large part of my identity was being the girl that's different, you know, the one that shows up to school in a bright pink cast, the one that has to ask older classmen in high school to, like, hold the door open for me so I can wheel myself through on a wheelchair.

Crutches were something that I was very used to, was just used to being the person that was different. But my parents, because of their faith, the minute I was born, it just was this foundation of gratitude. It was like, wow, like, she's here.

I wasn't supposed to be born alive. Wow, Chloe's here. And the foot, okay, interesting, a really cool curveball. We all get through this, wow. How beautiful is this thing that we get to celebrate?

How cool is this difference that we get to experience now? I remember being very young, probably three or four, and looking out at my feet outstretched in front of me and being so in awe of just the way my feet looked. My growing collection of scars and all the points on my toes where toenails should be but weren't.

Consistently, I just was proud of my feet and what they were going through. And I do have these memories of going on daddy-daughter dates to see my surgeon and having kids in my classes want to always sign my casts. And it was kind of exciting having surgery sometimes because it was going back to this place that felt familiar to me, which feels so strange to say. But as someone who spent so much time with nurses and goofing around with surgeons and being in those physically compromising states, it was this gentle familiarity, this very strange but acceptable rhythm of, okay, this is different and this is me living out this difference.

As I got older, there were moments of me interacting with societal norms. I remember going to the pools in the summer and seeing all the little girls with their colorful little toenail polish and being like, okay, interesting. I don't have toenails to paint colorful little shades, and so I would take colored sharpies and make little dots on the end of my toes to give the illusion that I have little colorful toenails. And then I'd have moments of clarity where I was like, oh, these are dots of colored sharpie on my feet.

This looks very strange. I guess I'll just be toenail-less for reals. As I've gotten older, I very much recognize that many aspects of my childhood looked different because my foot looked different, but also there was so much love that I was surrounded by. I mean, I think it's very easy to play the what-if game, you know? I want to believe that I'm a very different Chloe because of the foot that I have.

And who knows? I could be a super incredible soccer player or something if I didn't have a foot that functioned like a golf club, but that's not the case. My foot is very interesting, and the anatomy is very strange, and I will never be a fantastic soccer player, but my childhood was very full. And it wasn't until something happened when I was 14 that those main ideas about myself shifted.

When I was 14, I was the victim of assault hate crime because of my foot deformity. November 20, 2014, I was attending a private Christian high school. I was very excited to be at it.

I had never been to a big private school like that. I was eating lunch with some of my friends in the big outdoor quad area and was approached by two individuals who said, like, Chloe, come here. And I was like, okay, because they were like cool kids, you know? I was like so excited. I thought they would ask me a question about school or something. And I was like, okay, this is like my social in.

And so I walked over to the table right next to mine where they and their friends had been sitting. And one of the people said, Chloe, take off your shoe. I was so confused.

I couldn't really process the question. I was like, oh, what? And again, the person said, Chloe, take off your shoe.

And then they turned to their friends and said, she doesn't have any toenails. And I remember thinking like, oh, this is not a normal social interaction that I'm having right now. This doesn't feel right. I don't like this feeling in me. You know, later I look back and recognize that that was one of my first experiences with the concept of consent.

What happens when someone else tries to tell your story for you? I felt naked and it felt strange. I'd never been ashamed of my foot before. I'd always been okay with telling that story.

But in that moment, someone else was telling it for me and it didn't feel good. Again, the person said, Chloe, take off your shoe. And I said, no, you know, I'm OK. Take off your shoe.

No, thanks. I'm good. Take off your shoe. No, I don't want to. And then another person said, OK, fine.

I'll come help. And so the two people, one was knelt on the ground, untying my shoe, and the other came from behind me and wrapped their arms around me. I froze. I didn't know that I was allowed to lash out. I didn't know that I was allowed to just walk away. I thought only about what people would think of me and I didn't want to be the girl that kicked and screamed.

I didn't want to be the girl that walked away. And on the security footage, you can see me just standing there. This person knelt beside me, untying my shoe, removing the laces completely. You can see this other person standing behind me, their arms around me, and then you can see them squat and lift me up off the ground. So the first person can remove my shoe and then my sock and then they pull my leg up and hold it out.

All their friends lean in and I'm just there not moving. I remember sitting on the stand in trial in the middle of testifying, like watching this clip from the security footage. And I look so rigid and all these heads lean in and then they release me and I grab my shoe and I grab my sock and I stuff my foot in my sock and my sock in my shoe and I walk back to my table that's five feet away and sit down. All the emotional weight that this foot has carried for me and will continue to carry for me throughout my life, all of that was revealed. Following that day in November of 2014, I became someone that I didn't recognize. I quickly became depressed. My anxiety became very large, very pronounced. I couldn't sleep.

I had a hard time eating. I began struggling with suicidal ideation. This thing that existed, my feet, they used to be this thing that I was so proud of. And all of a sudden there was this big, huge gaping hole where that like love and acceptance and pride for those feet had been.

I looked down at my feet every day when I was putting on socks and shoes and I was reminded that my feet caused this incident to happen. And we're listening to Chloe Howard share her story. She had gone through life right up to the age of 14 with a remarkable attitude about her foot deformity until, of course, that day of hate. After that day, she said, I became someone I couldn't recognize.

When we come back, what happens next with Chloe Howard here on Our American Story? Music Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives.

Music I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot.

And I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious. And there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done.

I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So, if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try All-Free Clear Mega Packs. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. Which, my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So, the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that All-Free Clear Mega Packs, they have your back.

Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we return to our American stories and Chloe Howard's story. She'd been a victim of a hate crime due to her foot deformity. She had begun withdrawing into herself. She was filled with shame and anxiety.

We return now to Chloe for the rest of her story. The case just appeared on the DA's desk one morning and she met with my family initially and said, This, to me, reads like a rape case. But then she said, you know, you were touched when you didn't want to be touched. Articles of clothing were removed when you didn't want them to be removed.

You said no and those no's weren't heard. Then looking at your behavior following the event, you withdrew within yourself. You began to doubt your own story. You started to struggle with PTSD and that manifested itself in a very physical way. You were nauseous. You were sweaty whenever you saw these people. Your body was shaking. You couldn't eat.

You couldn't sleep. This reads like a rape case, Chloe. And I mean, these were very large statements to hear at 14 and it just wrote this narrative that then followed me for the next two years through the court case and the trial. Several months after my assault, my dad, apparently on his Facebook feed, he had entered to win this random contest. He had donated to an organization called Red because he really likes the band U2. And then randomly several months after this assault, he got an email that he had won this event and he was brought onto a FaceTime call.

And it was this representative from a company called Omaze that had partnered with Red to raise awareness for HIV AIDS and also to sponsor an event that could enable someone to meet Bono. My dad had won out of like thousands and thousands of people that had won and we're not a family that wins anything ever. It seems very weird to say that as something that's significant, but in this time where I felt so lost, I didn't understand what my God was doing with my story.

I just didn't get it. There was this like bright, exciting thing that happened. And so about six months after my assault was like the time when the event my dad had won happened. And so he and I, because he decided to take me, flew out to Denver, Colorado and met Bono, the lead singer of the band U2 backstage. We started talking and I ended up telling him my story about my club foot and about my assault and about how one of his songs had been really influential to me during this time.

And he looked at me, this like incredible short Irish man wearing all leather, just exuding energy and passion. He looked at me and he was like, Chloe, your voice matters. Chloe, he quoted Martin Luther King Jr.

He said, the arc of the universe bends towards justice and love. And when you speak, Chloe, you speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. And I now at age 15, I was like, oh, OK, I guess when Bono says something like that, you like to do something about it.

So that was like this very random, very crazy, weird kickstart event where an Irish rock star was like, Chloe, maybe you should start speaking about this. Growing up, I was super shy. I was 10 out of 10, an introvert.

I was like the kid that sat on the edge of the playground and watched everyone else play. But I felt this thing inside of me that was like, I don't like how I feel right now. I don't like sitting in this hole. I don't like feeling lost and separate from myself. I don't like it. I need to do something about it.

I don't want to feel stuck like this forever. So one night when I was supposed to be doing homework, I applied to give a TED talk. Definitely one of the most reckless things I've ever done in my entire life.

I applied without telling my parents and four months later got an email saying I had been accepted to give a TED talk. And I panicked immediately. I was like, oh, this is not good. I am not prepared for this.

I should not have done this. Now I have to give a TED talk. And so the next eight weeks I spent writing 16 minutes of material and completely memorizing it and falling in love with this developing message of self-acceptance and love and anti-bullying. And it became this idea that I named Stand Beautiful.

For me, Stand Beautiful meant that you were standing on a beautiful foundation and you were actively and continually redefining beauty for yourself because of who you are and not like what others said that you were. So on August 20th, 2016, I walked out onto this TED stage having never spoken in front of an audience ever, and I stood there barefoot on that like iconic red circle shaped carpet and spoke. And for the first time in those two years since the assault, I felt all the power that was taken from me in my assault was given right back. From that initial TED talk, I started getting a lot of feedback, a lot of like, Chloe, come speak at my event. Come speak at my church.

Can I interview you on my show? And all of a sudden it was me realizing that this was so much larger than myself. During this time, still, a California district attorney had decided to prosecute the perpetrators and try them for a felony hate crime. And so I was going through trial. I was sitting on the stand and having to testify while watching security footage of my assault play on repeat. And in trial, my truth being questioned by like very old professional men.

I mean, it was terrifying. I was taught, I think, in those moments where I was sitting there fighting to get these defense attorneys to just recognize that I was telling the truth. I realized how important it is for us as people to just trust that our experiences are reality, to say words and believe their power. It wasn't until I was sitting there on the stand, having people try and find holes in my story, trying to assign a timeline and say, well, it couldn't have been assault.

It couldn't have ripping off your shoe if the video says that it took more seconds than the term ripped would allow. All these little things that made me feel less than worth it. It was in those moments that I decided that I wanted to exist as someone who contained power. And I remember walking out of the juvenile hall that the trial was held in and feeling so beaten down, but also alive, like this energy was racing through me.

They were ultimately sentenced with a misdemeanor battery, which is an unlawful touching. I carried the weight of the assault for many years, and it wasn't until the last perpetrator was finally sentenced that I felt like it was right for me to let go. I think that forgiveness is one of the most divine things we as people have access to. And because it's this sacred interaction of grace and justice, I believe that forgiveness should not be rushed.

When it's rushed, it risks being ingenuine. But when the perpetrators were sentenced, I felt finally at peace enough with the situation to forgive my perpetrators. I've learned in the past couple years of sharing this story that vulnerability is met with vulnerability. And whenever I show up and share this story, people do come up to me and they share a story similar or that reminded them of it or something they're currently going through. And I feel so humbled and honored and grateful to be a part of that journey.

And the fact that they trust me with these stories doesn't make sense to me because this life isn't easy. But when we talk about it and are able to share the harder things we're going through, it becomes that much easier. One of my most favorite things to come out of this is finding this community of people with club feet. Growing up was super isolating having a club foot because I didn't know anyone else that had a club foot, especially one as severe as mine. Now I know people all around the world that have feet that look like mine and have had the same surgeries as mine and the same scars that I do. And I think it's this powerful illustration of this metaphorical truth that we all have scars. But when we become OK with the fact that scars are just these really special manifestations of pain that we've overcome, that's when crazy cool things happen.

But I do know that even though it's my name on the spines of those books and it is my face that has been seen on TV, it's not about me. It just happened to be me and my foot. And a great job on that piece by Faith. And what a story. We all have scars, she said, and they're special manifestations of pain overcome. The story of Chloe Howard here on Our American Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-16 16:42:43 / 2023-02-16 16:58:26 / 16

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