During WWII, he helped free a French town. His reaction to seeing it today is beautiful.

From a chair in his nursing home, 91-year-old veteran Frank Mouqué can virtually stand in the town square of Armentières, France — the town he helped liberate during WWII.

"We were bombed, shelled, sniped, fired at constantly," Mouque recalled of his time in the war. "There were quite a number of casualties. I lost a lot of my friends."

Armentiéres in 1944. Image via Twine/YouTube.


With a virtual reality headset strapped to his head, Mouqué was transported to the site of his most vivid memories: seeing in rich detail the town he first stepped foot in back in 1944 and hearing the voices of people who are free, in part, because of him.

Frank Mouqué donning his VR headset. Image via Twine/YouTube.

It was weeks after D-Day and the allied troops were marching their way through France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany, freeing every city they could from Nazi occupation. One of those cities was Armentières, a tiny village in Northern France, just below the Belgian border.

After a hard fight, allied troops successfully liberated Armentières. What Mouqué remembers more than anything is the warm reception he and his company received from the people there. The families that took him in and the people who came out to thank him and his fellow soldiers are memories that have stayed with Mouqué for over 70 years.

Image via Twine/YouTube.

In honor of Remembrance Day 2016, Twine, a U.K.-based network of innovators and creatives, decided to honor Mouqué with a one-of-a-kind virtual reality experience.

They, along with Mutiny Media travelled to modern day Armentières and made a video for Mouqué in which members of the town personally thanked him for his service.

Watch Frank's virtual experience here:

The film was shot using 360-degree video technology, so when Mouqué viewed it through a virtual reality visor, it was like he was really there — walking through the streets, hearing a chorus of children sing to him, and even receiving a medal from the mayor. Mouqué was also given the medal in real life, which he said he was honored to receive on behalf of everyone who was there.

Image via Twine/YouTube.

"We saw the potential of virtual reality, but had not yet come across anyone using it for the benefit of veterans," Stuart Logan, CEO and co-founder of Twine explained via email.

Image via Twine/YouTube.

Virtual reality is brand new, meaning the boundaries of its ability to truly affect people are still being explored.

"I think this project shows just how powerful VR can be as a tool to transport people — physically and emotionally," Logan explained. "From the response of the people of Armentières when we first explained our idea — they immediately understood how poignant and important project this was going to be — all the way through to Frank’s incredible reaction to the experience, it’s been very moving."

GIF via Twine/YouTube.

"My grandfather fought in the war, so it’s personally a very significant project for me," Logan said. "It was incredibly important to recognize [veterans] and how their actions created the world we enjoy today," Logan said.

Frank Mouqué probably thought he'd never see Armentières in person again.

With a little creativity, ingenuity, and technology, he was not only able to see it, but feel like he was really there. That's a gift that is more than just a novelty. It's the heartwarming conclusion to a story that began decades ago and will echo through years to come.

Watch Frank's reaction to the virtual reality experience here:

via Travis Akers / Twitter

A tweet thread by Travis Akers, a Navy Lieutenant with 17 years of service, is going viral because it shows just how sweet children can be and also points to an overlooked issue facing military families.

In the early morning of April 12, Akers tweeted a photo of himself and his seven-year-old son Tanner who he affectionately calls "Munchie." Akers was moved because his son set his alarm clock so he could get up early enough to hand him a pocket full of Legos before work.

Tanner wanted to be sure his father had something to play with at the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida. "This was my daily morning trip to base, departing my house at six am for work," Akers told Upworthy.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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