Swiss travelers impressed with heritage in Berne
Debby Neuenschwander, executive director of Swiss Heritage Village, was surprised last week when four residents of Switzerland showed up for a tour of their Berne counterpart.
Rosmarie Luder, Verena Binggeli, Michele Ruegg and Andreas Binggeli came to Berne as part of a two-week tour of the United States.
"We were surprised with your clock tower and how big it is," said Andreas Binggeli, who served as spokesman for the group. "This was a little bit like coming home. We all like it. Part of your roots are evident here. We have the same roots.
"Here there are a lot of big cities between landscapes," continued Binggeli. "In Switzerland, there are parts where one community is located after another. We hope that liberty and the ghosts of Switzerland stay with you."
Binggeli said that a musical theme served as the basis for their tour. They arrived in Chicago where they enjoyed a jazz presentation. In Memphis, Tenn., the mystique of Elvis drew them to Graceland. It was jazz that attracted them to New Orleans.
"Between Memphis and New Orleans we heard blues," observed Binggeli. "We traveled a blues trail through different historical sites."
One of the most enjoyable stops was Springfield, Ill. where the foursome lived out their studies of Abraham Lincoln, a well-respected American statesman from the Swiss viewpoint.
"We learned what a great man he was. We didn't know a lot of the things that he did before we arrived there," observed Binggeli. "We knew a little history concerning him. We knew that he was the president during the Civil War.
"We were impressed with his heart, what he did for the people," continued Binggeli. "We were touched that he lost his children and all that he went through. In our time, most political leaders look after the things of their party. Everyone is concerned about their own needs. Abraham Lincoln fought for humanity, not his own party; he wasn't concerned about himself."
The travelers came to Berne from their visit to the Nashville, Tenn. area.
"We wanted to visit the Amish and the people who had come from Switzerland," said Binggeli. "We knew that there was a city called, 'Berne,' in Indiana, but we didn't know that there was such a Swiss emphasis here."
Of the group, Ruegg and Ruder are daughter and mother and Verena and Andreas Binggeli are mother and son.
"I like your country; Switzerland is a clean and beautiful country, but here the country is bigger," said Ruegg. "There are more places and more possibilities to help yourself. If you want to do something you can do it.
"It is easier; there is more land and more regions," continued Ruegg, a waitress by trade in Switzerland. "You can go south and it is sunny. You can visit the mountains and it is different again."
Luder was very impressed by the tree of Canton flags.
"I looked at that and I said, 'that is my country; those flags come from where I come from," Luder said.
"We went to an Amish store in Jefferson Township. We were amazed to meet them and speak Swiss German with them," said Verena. "We all understood each other. They were all so friendly with us."
"We were shocked when we came to Berne and saw so many different Swiss things," noted Andreas Binggeli. "Different things were written that surprised us, such as street names and Swiss names on buildings."
"I'm surprised at how much of the Swiss language is still spoken here. It's quite impressive," commented Verena.
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