Friday, June 06, 2014

What D-Day Means to Me

Seventy years ago, my grandmother was weeping for joy in Budapest.  My father was 11 years old and he had two brothers with one on the way. My family survived World War Two thanks to the Allies and despite the Allies. Hungary was a Nazi aligned country, unfortunately, but my grandparents worked to help their Jewish friends escape death. Yes, civilians in the Axis knew what was going on with the Jewish population.

My family fled Hungary to avoid the Russian "liberation". That liberation killed others in my family. My family fled into Germany.  Very stupid now that we know how things progressed in 1944 Germany. My family survived multiple RAF bombings.  One of my uncle's first memories, as a three year old, is emerging from a bunker to a city burning around him. My family got to Bregenz Austria by V-E day.

I would not be alive if D-Day hadn't happened. Eternal thank you, God bless you, and hashem yevarech otcha. As a child of a World War Two survivor, food and safety were huge concerns growing up. I was a member of the clean plate club because my father was starving in the war. The idea of a bug out bag didn't start with the recent zombie apocalypse fad. No, it began with survivors of a massive worldwide conflict.

One of the reasons I converted to Judaism was thanks to the stories I grew up hearing. Jews weren't seen as The Other. They were seen as fellow survivors with the weird unpronounceable names. When I read the Diary of Anne Frank in third grade and found out she died in Bergen-Belsen, it felt like I had lost a best friend.

Nazi Germany has shaped my origins and my upbringing. I am so grateful and blessed that the Americans landed on Normandy. My family fled a regime that tortured and spied on its citizens. That is why I expect more of America and why I cried when I saw the Abu Ghraib photos. America is the country that has shaped my future. I would hope it's the kind of country that landed on Normandy, not the kind of country that debates whether a soldier is patriotic enough to rescue.

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