Friday, March 29, 2013

“Who Me?”


My grandfather o.b.m. served during WWII in General Patton's fifth armored division. As a child I proudly looked up to him as a hero for having fought the nazis. I felt that there was so much to be proud of for having played a role in vanquishing the nazi menace that I was taken literally aback when he sparingly shared a few stock war stories at bedtime. In fact, whatever little he did share came after tug between my begging and his reluctance.

When I questioned him why? He explained that there is a horror to taking lives no matter what the justification or cause. Further, he explained that he wasn't fighting the SS, but, youths, forcibly harvested from their mothers' embrace to fight for the "varmatch". Commensurate with such feelings, I later learned from my mom that some ten years after the war he burnt his uniform in the basement.

In my early teens, my grandfather went through a divorce that required him to temporarily deposit some of his precious possessions with his daughter, my mother. It was then, in the storage section of our attic, that my siblings and I first discovered hundreds of his war photos. We had no stories to attach to them. So we had fun making up our own. There was one relic among these possessions, however, that did speak to us. Apparently, after the war a couple of soldiers put together a cartoon-like booklet called "Who Me?" highlighting the saga of the fifth armored division. This booklet became my surrogate voice for all those missing stories that I had hoped my grandfather would share.

Eventually, my grandfather's life stabilized and took back all his photos, along with "Who Me?". For years, I missed the booklet, but, its images remained seared in my memory as representative of my grandfather's experience.

This year on Passover (a time when our inner child returns) my research minded brother presented me with a huge surprise, a copy of "Who Me?"; printed from an internet download. I had no idea that it was available all these years online. With wet eyes, I turned each page wrapped in nostalgia and thankfulness. The Creator's miracle of internet! 

Here's the link for anyone interested:

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