Friday, November 11, 2016

For Carl

Just before World War I, a young boy-man felt so negative about the direction his country was taking, that he left Germany for the United States. He enlisted in the army, becoming a naturalized citizen. As the war progressed, he was sent overseas to fight his brothers who were across the fields in the German army. Ultimately, he died from having served, mustard gas and cigarettes causing lung cancer.

My dad remembered only a few things about his own father who died when he was an adolescent. He remembered collecting scrap metal with him to help the family scrape by in the Depression. He only recently, during his last illness, shared his anger that his father didn't chance an operation to remove half his lungs, prolonging his life, and giving my own dad, his young boy, more time with him. He remembered that his dad said "zink" when he meant "sink".

Tidbits would shape my image of my grandfather over the years, but there wasn't much. I knew he came from a small German town named Fritzlar. I knew he joined an uncle here and that he had other family, perhaps in Baltimore. I never knew, however, why he came to the United States. 

During my dad's last illness is when my dad told me that my grandfather did not like the direction his natal country was taking. That puzzle piece strengthened me. I had often wondered how my German relatives lived through that dark German period without doing anything. What were they doing as their neighbors were dragged off? My ancestor, my grandfather, sacrificed his life to fight against wrongdoing. 

We have as a nation said that a person that has personally perpetrated evil on other people, has espoused hate, revenge, and discord, can still succeed, can be lifted up to the highest position in the land. The end justifies the means. I must explain to my son that when it comes to "no means no", it doesn't apply if you are famous or the president. I am worried for my friends who have become targets of this monster. 

Like my grandfather before me, I will fight back. I will not be the one silently watching as my neighbors are treated with hate and injustice. I will not stand silent. I console myself with the fact that there is a record: Facebook. Those that stood with a man that epitomizes hate will be easily identified. When history is read, our descendants not have to search for a few words on a death bed to know if you stood with evil to justify your own agenda. It will be there for all to see. That is, if there is a world for humans. Emails got 100 minutes in the debates, climate change got none. 

*At present, I am taking a break from Facebook. You may comment there, but please excuse me for not responding as I won't see it for some time.


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