Thursday, April 30, 2009

American Soldier - Liberator

It’s been a slow news day today. Either that or I’ve developed a case of writer’s block.

I suppose that’s a good thing to some who wish I’d just go away. The less I write the better they think. The best thing for them would be to close down this blog. But that's not going to happen. I’m going to be around awhile.

I spent a good part of the day searching for something that would pique my interest and found very little worth writing about.

I finally found a news story that typifies what this country is all about. Chesed. The US Navy actually held a memorial service about the Holocaust at the Naval Station in Pearl Harbor. This is very unlike the military in this country. They are not known for memorializing these kinds of things. If anything they are not about ethnic diversity but about uniformity. As such they tend to shy away from anything remotely ethnic. But I guess they think that the Holocaust transcends that.

On the other hand there have been some very poignant stories about the soldiers who liberated the concentration camps. Any American soldier that was involved in any way with liberating those camps came away with a profound sympathy for what the Jewish people suffered through. Those memories stuck with them the rest of their lives.

This was evident yet again in another Hollywood production. This time on TV. It was an episode of a crime show I rarely watch called CSI New York. When checking the listings last night I noticed the title of the CSI NY episode. It was called YahrZeit. Obviously that piqued my curiosity.

So I watched it. The plot was not so important to me. Nor was the inaccuracy of Jewish customs they portrayed. It was the sensitive way in which they treated the subject that was important.

In the course of the developing storyline an interesting ‘fact’ was revealed. It was about the show’s leading character played by actor Gary Sinise. It turns out that his father had been one of the soldiers who liberated one of the camps. It told of his compassion in helping the emaciated inmates he found there to the point of carrying their bodies because the inmates were so weak they could not walk.

The character was fictional but I think it represents what must have been the case many times over in those immediate post liberation days. It shows the character of the American soldier and the humility they had.

The father of the lead character had long since died when he had heard about his father’s involvement as a liberator. His father never talked about it. He was a silent hero. That reminded me of another hero. This one was real and someone I recently wrote about – Irena Sendler. She too didn’t talk about it. It took research by others to find it out and tell her story to the world.

I must give Hollywood credit once again for yet another sensitive presentation of a Holocaust related story. With all the Holocaust revisionism increasingly being attempted around the world – even by world leaders the worst of which resides in Iran. It’s nice to know that at least in this country the Holocaust will not be denied. Hollywood won’t let it. It will be remembered in all its horrific detail.

So too will the heroes of the Holocaust like the fictional character described in last night’s CSI episode. I believe he represents the entirety of those soldiers who saw the effects of the holocaust on the survivors and responded in ways described in this episode. My hat is off to actor/producer Gary Sinise for getting this episode on the air and his sensitivity to the issue. He is a truly great American and a Chicagoan to boot.