Author Topic: True story from Germany: Memorial Day 1999  (Read 312 times)

Offline Late-For-Lunch

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True story from Germany: Memorial Day 1999
« on: May 26, 2017, 09:35:51 AM »
Hey Friends, I know some of you may have heard me tell this story before, but I wanted to give others something to think about over this Memorial Day holiday weekend.

This is the story of an experience that I had while in Germany back in the summer of ‘99. To set the scene, I was in the Army Reserves at the time (post regular army) and our unit participated in a “soldier exchange” program with a German Army unit. This meant that about 15 of my fellow reservists and I were assigned to live as German soldiers for our 2 week summer duty. Germans are naturally wonderful hosts and as a result we did all the fun stuff that German soldiers do. We fired many of their weapons, we drove their tanks, and on and on. This was in an area of Germany that did not have much exposure to Americans, in fact, during one of the town's festivals, the children were amazed and just followed me around all evening.

They had even set us up to qualify for their Schutzenschnur award. This required the normal PT test, but also included swimming and a 30 Km road march (really just a long hike.) It was during this road march when I experienced one of the most honorable events of my life……It was approximately at the half way mark and the troops had all separated by then. I was in 2nd place overall, but was the leading American. In addition, at this point the lead German was out of my site and I couldn’t see any of my fellow soldiers behind me. I really was just walking along at a brisk pace and was observing a beautiful German countryside. Then I noticed a farmer out working his field, driving his tractor back and forth. I don’t recall if he was plowing or planting, but it was that type of field work. Watching him was a great distraction from the monotony of marching along.

Then I noticed that this farmer had changed his course. It appeared to me that he had paced me specifically and that he was driving to a point that would intercept me. After a couple of minutes of observing this, I had confirmed this suspicion. He was clearly and intently going to intercept me. Now, here I am, a lone American in the middle of the German countryside, and I am wearing an American uniform. I wasn’t sure what this farmer had in mind. Was he intending to do harm to me? I began to worry, but there wasn’t really any escape route or any way to avoid a confrontation. Eventually the farmer made it to the roadway and parked to wait for me. I was envisioning that he may have a gun on his tractor, or other weapon. I began to try to plan for a potentially violent confrontation….

Then as I got closer, I could hear him speaking very excitedly, but only in deutsch. Clearly, he did not speak English and I could not really understand what he was saying. So, as I was almost to a point where we could make eye contact, I stated, “No sprekenzie duetsch, no sprekenzie duetsch.” He paused, then just started saying, “America, Danke Schun, America, danke shun, America Danke Schun.” He then started walking very quickly towards me. It was then that I realized that this elderly farmer, that was physically hardened and rugged from years of field work, was crying. He had tears streaming down his face and just kept saying, “America, Danke schun” over and over and over and over. We hugged, he patted me on my back and I was off to complete the road march.

Over the years this experience plays over and over in my mind. I have often thought of it whenever folks deride our troops, or America in general. I remember this grizzled, elderly farmer that was so thankful to America for saving him from Nazi Germany, that decades later he saw a random American soldier and it brought tears to his eyes. I know that he wasn’t thanking me, he was thanking all of those that came before me and did the hard work of defeating that evil.

He was thanking the WW2 vets that endured so many difficulties that we can't begin to imagine.

So, for this coming Memorial Day weekend, I would like to personally thank our Veterans that served in Homberg-Efze, Germany. Their sacrifices were remembered over 50 years later by this man and I am sure that he would want me to pass along his thanks to anyone and everyone.
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Offline supsalemgr

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Re: True story from Germany: Memorial Day 1999
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2017, 10:48:42 AM »
Hey Friends, I know some of you may have heard me tell this story before, but I wanted to give others something to think about over this Memorial Day holiday weekend.

This is the story of an experience that I had while in Germany back in the summer of ‘99. To set the scene, I was in the Army Reserves at the time (post regular army) and our unit participated in a “soldier exchange” program with a German Army unit. This meant that about 15 of my fellow reservists and I were assigned to live as German soldiers for our 2 week summer duty. Germans are naturally wonderful hosts and as a result we did all the fun stuff that German soldiers do. We fired many of their weapons, we drove their tanks, and on and on. This was in an area of Germany that did not have much exposure to Americans, in fact, during one of the town's festivals, the children were amazed and just followed me around all evening.

They had even set us up to qualify for their Schutzenschnur award. This required the normal PT test, but also included swimming and a 30 Km road march (really just a long hike.) It was during this road march when I experienced one of the most honorable events of my life……It was approximately at the half way mark and the troops had all separated by then. I was in 2nd place overall, but was the leading American. In addition, at this point the lead German was out of my site and I couldn’t see any of my fellow soldiers behind me. I really was just walking along at a brisk pace and was observing a beautiful German countryside. Then I noticed a farmer out working his field, driving his tractor back and forth. I don’t recall if he was plowing or planting, but it was that type of field work. Watching him was a great distraction from the monotony of marching along.

Then I noticed that this farmer had changed his course. It appeared to me that he had paced me specifically and that he was driving to a point that would intercept me. After a couple of minutes of observing this, I had confirmed this suspicion. He was clearly and intently going to intercept me. Now, here I am, a lone American in the middle of the German countryside, and I am wearing an American uniform. I wasn’t sure what this farmer had in mind. Was he intending to do harm to me? I began to worry, but there wasn’t really any escape route or any way to avoid a confrontation. Eventually the farmer made it to the roadway and parked to wait for me. I was envisioning that he may have a gun on his tractor, or other weapon. I began to try to plan for a potentially violent confrontation….

Then as I got closer, I could hear him speaking very excitedly, but only in deutsch. Clearly, he did not speak English and I could not really understand what he was saying. So, as I was almost to a point where we could make eye contact, I stated, “No sprekenzie duetsch, no sprekenzie duetsch.” He paused, then just started saying, “America, Danke Schun, America, danke shun, America Danke Schun.” He then started walking very quickly towards me. It was then that I realized that this elderly farmer, that was physically hardened and rugged from years of field work, was crying. He had tears streaming down his face and just kept saying, “America, Danke schun” over and over and over and over. We hugged, he patted me on my back and I was off to complete the road march.

Over the years this experience plays over and over in my mind. I have often thought of it whenever folks deride our troops, or America in general. I remember this grizzled, elderly farmer that was so thankful to America for saving him from Nazi Germany, that decades later he saw a random American soldier and it brought tears to his eyes. I know that he wasn’t thanking me, he was thanking all of those that came before me and did the hard work of defeating that evil.

He was thanking the WW2 vets that endured so many difficulties that we can't begin to imagine.

So, for this coming Memorial Day weekend, I would like to personally thank our Veterans that served in Homberg-Efze, Germany. Their sacrifices were remembered over 50 years later by this man and I am sure that he would want me to pass along his thanks to anyone and everyone.

 :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Offline Solar

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Re: True story from Germany: Memorial Day 1999
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2017, 02:48:39 PM »
Great story.  :thumbsup:

I experienced something similar in Korea in 1973, with the exception, they were gathering their children and running from me, as if I were Godzilla. :lol:
Hell, I was carrying a huge Graflex camera with a flashbulb attachment, an armband signifying "Official US Army Photographer", a cast on my left leg and a single crutch and hobbling my way back to camp in the extreme back country along the DMZ.
I tried several times to get directions back to camp because I was certain I was on the wrong road, but everyone ran from me.

I've never understood that reaction, but it was definitely based on fear and total distrust.
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Offline Hoofer

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This Memorial Day
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2017, 07:54:09 AM »
On this Memorial Day, I remember with a grateful heart those who fought right here in America - yes, the Civil War, to make America what it is today.   We could be something much different today that what we are - possibly better, but probably a whole lot worse - not because of the Civil War, but what might have become of America after the Civil War concluded. 

Many a philosopher would say, "there are no winners in war, just losers..." and go on to conclude "war is a waste of human life, the epitome of evil".  Yet, they receive the same freedoms and bask in the same liberty I do, more than a century later.  Somehow, it turned out alright - even if secession appeared to be the ultimate goal, it would have changed the course of America forever.   We, enjoy the freedom, liberty in American today - on the blood shed by unforgotten men & women over a century ago.  It's much more than a history lesson, a moral and philosophical quest into the past, we actually live on the dreams of those fallen heroes, both Union and Confederate dreams of Freedom and Unity live on in our hearts.

To undue the war, and it's historical outcome, or reverse the result - even erase the conflict with it's tremendous loss of life - not could, but would give us an America we wouldn't recognize today.  As much as we (I) loathe the war itself, regrettably, it becomes necessary to put words into actions - the convictions in their hearts, they fought for...  we are their dreams, living on their courage and blood, we are the winners of both sides, both ideas, melded together.   It is the empty political rhetoric, we need to fear the most - those promises to fight for our cause in Washington, quickly evaporates like the morning mist, we are "out of their sight, out of their minds".   These are the men & women who pose the greatest danger to our freedom, never willing to fulfill those campaign promises, to put words into action.   Not a single elected politician comes to mind, "Fought for us in Congress" or "Fought for us in the Senate" - they're not the heroes, they're the cowards.  The heroes are the men & women guarding their worthless asses, that was the nightmare of those fallen in the Civil War.

Where is the repeal of the enslavement of Obamacare, crushing taxation, reckless overspending?   Can we start by repealing stupidity and replace it with patriotic common sense & responsibility?   The honorable Mitch McConnell, majority leader, "can't find the votes" - really?   Not really, he can't find the courage, he and every other enslaving Senators is a slap to the face of every fallen soldier who gave him the opportunity to VOTE with their blood.  If those brave men & women of EITHER side were here today, to represent us, their great-grand children, I suspect a vote would have taken place before the end of January.   These politicians are the weak-kneed philosophers wringing their hands, unable to muster the courage to raise their hand and vote.  Neither Confederate, nor Union soldier fought (or died) for a nightmare like this.  Neither Lee nor Grant or Lincoln ever envisioned such a hapless collection of cowards.

For a moment, forget the cowardice of today's representatives in Washington, and personally give God thanks.  Remembering it was more than a century ago, someone actually had the fortitude to stand for something bigger than themselves, and die defending those dreams - knowing the nightmare which would come from their inaction.  Our Nation was conceived in the dreams of great men & women, who brought it to life with much more than the empty words of an "elected" politician.   Those lowly soldiers were much greater than dreamers, they were the givers of what we call our America today.  Those soldiers were not content with the Great Experiment, we call the United States of America, dying a quiet, uneventful death.  As sad as it is to envision & remember, their immense hardship, turmoil and sacrifice - they gave new life to the American Dream, the vision our Nation's Founders dreamed.  I sincerely wish, there was some other way - but am very grateful they did.

Living in Virginia... far different than the midwest where I grew up.   Where I stand today, men & women fought.  Those steep hills, ravines, winding roads were where wagons, horses & dedicated men put their words into action.  I think to myself, "Who am I to stand in their dreams?  Am I the nightmare they fought against, or the dream they bled & died for?   Will I be the man who protects and fulfills their vision, or the be the faithless, shortsighted, coward they loathed?"   America is much bigger than I, God's grace was shed on thee. 

On this Decoration Day, renamed Memorial Day - I enjoy freedom at a great price.   God Bless those defending the America we know, and the dream we hope to leave our children.   God Bless those faithful who went before us.   This is my Memorial, I am truly unworthy of the price.
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Offline supsalemgr

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Re: This Memorial Day
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2017, 08:27:12 AM »
On this Memorial Day, I remember with a grateful heart those who fought right here in America - yes, the Civil War, to make America what it is today.   We could be something much different today that what we are - possibly better, but probably a whole lot worse - not because of the Civil War, but what might have become of America after the Civil War concluded. 

Many a philosopher would say, "there are no winners in war, just losers..." and go on to conclude "war is a waste of human life, the epitome of evil".  Yet, they receive the same freedoms and bask in the same liberty I do, more than a century later.  Somehow, it turned out alright - even if secession appeared to be the ultimate goal, it would have changed the course of America forever.   We, enjoy the freedom, liberty in American today - on the blood shed by unforgotten men & women over a century ago.  It's much more than a history lesson, a moral and philosophical quest into the past, we actually live on the dreams of those fallen heroes, both Union and Confederate dreams of Freedom and Unity live on in our hearts.

To undue the war, and it's historical outcome, or reverse the result - even erase the conflict with it's tremendous loss of life - not could, but would give us an America we wouldn't recognize today.  As much as we (I) loathe the war itself, regrettably, it becomes necessary to put words into actions - the convictions in their hearts, they fought for...  we are their dreams, living on their courage and blood, we are the winners of both sides, both ideas, melded together.   It is the empty political rhetoric, we need to fear the most - those promises to fight for our cause in Washington, quickly evaporates like the morning mist, we are "out of their sight, out of their minds".   These are the men & women who pose the greatest danger to our freedom, never willing to fulfill those campaign promises, to put words into action.   Not a single elected politician comes to mind, "Fought for us in Congress" or "Fought for us in the Senate" - they're not the heroes, they're the cowards.  The heroes are the men & women guarding their worthless asses, that was the nightmare of those fallen in the Civil War.

Where is the repeal of the enslavement of Obamacare, crushing taxation, reckless overspending?   Can we start by repealing stupidity and replace it with patriotic common sense & responsibility?   The honorable Mitch McConnell, majority leader, "can't find the votes" - really?   Not really, he can't find the courage, he and every other enslaving Senators is a slap to the face of every fallen soldier who gave him the opportunity to VOTE with their blood.  If those brave men & women of EITHER side were here today, to represent us, their great-grand children, I suspect a vote would have taken place before the end of January.   These politicians are the weak-kneed philosophers wringing their hands, unable to muster the courage to raise their hand and vote.  Neither Confederate, nor Union soldier fought (or died) for a nightmare like this.  Neither Lee nor Grant or Lincoln ever envisioned such a hapless collection of cowards.

For a moment, forget the cowardice of today's representatives in Washington, and personally give God thanks.  Remembering it was more than a century ago, someone actually had the fortitude to stand for something bigger than themselves, and die defending those dreams - knowing the nightmare which would come from their inaction.  Our Nation was conceived in the dreams of great men & women, who brought it to life with much more than the empty words of an "elected" politician.   Those lowly soldiers were much greater than dreamers, they were the givers of what we call our America today.  Those soldiers were not content with the Great Experiment, we call the United States of America, dying a quiet, uneventful death.  As sad as it is to envision & remember, their immense hardship, turmoil and sacrifice - they gave new life to the American Dream, the vision our Nation's Founders dreamed.  I sincerely wish, there was some other way - but am very grateful they did.

Living in Virginia... far different than the midwest where I grew up.   Where I stand today, men & women fought.  Those steep hills, ravines, winding roads were where wagons, horses & dedicated men put their words into action.  I think to myself, "Who am I to stand in their dreams?  Am I the nightmare they fought against, or the dream they bled & died for?   Will I be the man who protects and fulfills their vision, or the be the faithless, shortsighted, coward they loathed?"   America is much bigger than I, God's grace was shed on thee. 

On this Decoration Day, renamed Memorial Day - I enjoy freedom at a great price.   God Bless those defending the America we know, and the dream we hope to leave our children.   God Bless those faithful who went before us.   This is my Memorial, I am truly unworthy of the price.

Well put.  :thumbup:
"If you can't run with the big dawgs, stay on the porch!"

 

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