Friday, May 28, 2010

Please Remember

This being Memorial Day Weekend I am reminded how lucky we are to live in such a great country.

Now, being that this little blog of mine is read in 38 different countries I want to be very clear about this strictly non-political post. Recently, I was at a panel discussion on Afghanistan that included Peter Galbraith the recent United Nations' Deputy Special Representative to that country. He is married to a woman from Denmark and he related a story about her saying how "appalled" she was when she visited the States after 9-11-01 and saw all these American flags, including overt displays of patriotism even in "liberal Cambridge, Massachusetts," she lamented. (Where Harvard is).

I never really understood how many in Europe bristle at the patriotism of Americans given the history of the 20th Century, and certainly in the aftermath of that horrible day 9 years ago. Well, I will choose to ignore Mr. Galbraith's wife and remember a Dutch woman named Bep Baltussen from Maastricht, Holland. I never met her, but after my grandfather was killed at the Battle of the Bulge on December 23, 1944 he was interned at the American Cemetery in Maastricht and this young woman adopted his grave being so thankful that the Americans (and British) liberated her country. With the parents, widow, and infant son (my father) thousands of miles away, Ms. Baltussen would plant flowers and tend to my grandfather's grave. She would correspond with my family after the war and send Christmas and Easter cards in Dutch. We have saved them these past 65 years. The "Greatest Generation" certainly extended around the world.

So, you will have to forgive my public pronouncement of thanks to the American soldiers, sailors, and airmen who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that I could live in freedom. This is not jingoism, this is honor and thankfulness.

Today in Times Square the United States Marines were holding a public demonstration of their equipment, and exhibitions in self defense, and music from the USO. ABC Morning Show was filming a segment outside as well, and I just marveled that I really do live in the greatest city in the world. The crossroads of the world is at my work's front door, and though I may bitch and moan about hapless tourists getting in my way as I rush home from work, today it gave me chills to watch these perfectly tailored and fit Marines interact with the public. Even the notoriously cynical NYPD were taking photos of these guys.

I asked one Major about their chow hall, and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) in the field and he said that if someone wanted to eat strictly vegan in the Marine Corps they would have no problem doing so.

So, this weekend, I want to use my tiny pulpit to just say thank you to those who serve, and solemly remember the American soldiers, sailors, and airmen who gave their lives in defense of liberty around the world.


Vegan Epicurean said...

As someone that lost a friend in the plane that hit the pentagon I am horrified by the comment you mentioned. But am touched that someone "adopted" your grandfathers grave. What a thoughtful thing for Bep to do.

Thanks for putting Memorial Day back into perspective for all of us. I think it is too easy to get carried away in the "long weekend aspect" and forget the meaning behind it.


Naina said...

I am an Army Brat. So is my husband. Our father's served in Vietnam. My Dad served two tours in Vietnam. Thankfully both came home with their limbs intact. Yet, their hearts were forever changed. I served in the Army Reserve. I love America. I am deeply thankful to all the men and women who put their lives on the line, and their families on hold to defend the United States of America. My heart goes out to every family that has lost a loved one to war.
What a beautiful story, Bep understood the cost freedom. We should all have a heart such as hers.