Written on June 25, 2019

On August 21, 2014 I received a document that certified me to be a legal citizen of the United States.  Today, “United States Citizen” was written on my heart.  Let me explain and start this explanation with some relevant background.

From 1978 to 1988 I operated in the USA as an illegal undercover agent in the service of the KGB.  Eventually I severed my ties to the KGB – for the rest of the story just ask my friend Google.

I am in my second mixed race marriage.  The first one produced two children who have become well-adjusted adults, and I am now taking care of a third one, a true latecomer.  Since my first marriage I have been a minority of one in my extended family.  For that reason it did not bother me one bit when our move to the Atlanta area landed us in an all-black subdivision – a minority of one again.  No problem whatsoever, I never once felt unwelcome.  When I am out for a jog, folks often yell some encouraging words from their front porch.  My wife is very social, and as a result we made a few friends here.  One older couple we got to know particularly well – when their grandsons visit, they often come to play with my eight-year-old daughter.  Of course, when children hang out together so do the adult caregivers.  “L” (I am using the first letter only for privacy reasons) and I would occasionally sit at the kitchen table to discuss the world, our faith and the good old days.  “L” was a sweet kind man whose eyes were always smiling.

One day we heard that “L” was in the hospital to get his heart valve replaced.  “No big deal” I thought since I had mine replaced two years before.  He was released on schedule, recovered quickly and started making plans how to get back into shape.  After all, he wanted to be around AND fit to be there for the boys.

Last week, the Lord took this sweet man home – heart attack.  The funeral was today, it was a military funeral.  Again, I was a minority of one among the mourners.  The ceremony took place at the Georgia National Cemetery, and my friend who was an ex-Marine, was sent off with full military honors.  Two young soldiers stood at each end of the pedestal that supported the casket which had the American flag draped around it.  The two soldiers were white.  After the chaplain had spoken a few words, the three shot gun salute sounded from some distance followed by the haunting sounds of taps.

The three grizzled veterans of the Marine Corps who had performed the salute marched in lockstep towards the casket.  They were white.  Each of them approached the casket,  saluted, and then went on their knees before the seated widow, respectfully addressing her with a  few words. One of the men spoke loudly enough for everyone to hear.  His words were heartfelt and moving.  Some mourners started crying softly, and  my eyes welled up.  Finally, the two young soldiers removed the flag and folded it slowly and meticulously.  When the flag was down to a neat package, one soldier knelt in front of the widow and placed it in her lap.  This is when she broke down and cried, and this is when some tears found their way down my cheeks.

None of these men knew the deceased ex-Marine.  They were different in age and race, but they loved him and honored him as if he were a blood brother.  There is only one explanation for that closeness, and that is their shared love for our country.  Regardless of the merit of the policy decisions that have sent our soldiers into combat, everybody who signed up for service in our armed forces did so in full knowledge that there would be moments when he would be required to offer the greatest sacrifice a man can make – his life.

No matter the war, no matter the battle, no matter the situation, they all deserve to be admired and honored equally.  However, as somebody who was born in Germany four years after the end of World War II, I am especially grateful to the young men who plunged into the ice-cold waters of the English Channel during the invasion of Normandy only to be mowed down by the relentless gunfire of the Nazi defenders.  The more than 2,000 young Americans who died on D-Day fought wearing an American uniform, but they served all of mankind, including me and the entire German nation.  They fought their just fight to rid the world of the Nazi cancer that had infested Germany and was determined to spread its evil throughout the entire planet.

I am all the more ashamed to report that today a large percentage of  German citizens  choose not to remember those who sacrificed their lives so that guilty and defeated Germany could go on (with American aid) and rebuild itself .  They choose not to remember that the safe and comfortable lives they live today have been built on the foundation of those who perished in the waters of the Channel.  Forgetful Germany is becoming more and more a stranger to me while the United States of America has become a true home.  I am so grateful that this country allowed me to stay and become a citizen, and I am truly honored to live in a place side by side with a brotherhood of men who are from vastly different backgrounds but who are united in their determination to do the right thing, not only for themselves and their families, not only for their country, but for all of mankind.  This is the day, when I became an American not only by law and volition but also in spirit.

Thank you!



Comments are closed.