Thursday, February 5, 2009

Heroes Among Us

Last night we went to an even honoring Marty's next-door-neighbor when he was growing up. It is amazing how people can live among us, and we never really know their story. Joe Moser was an Air Force fighter pilot, and he was a prisoner of war during World War II and was held at Hitler's Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

Last week Joe was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 60-some years after the mission for which he was honored. He wrote a book about his experiences, and last night was the book signing. We had Kelina come oer to watch the older kids, and Marty and I took Drew to the event. I told Emma we were going to see a real-life super-hero, and I would tell her all about it when we got home. I never want to sugar coat our nation's history for our kids, I think that does us a great disjustice. I do want to be careful about what we do reveal and at what age, so when we returned I showed her the book and we looked at some of the photographs inside. There is a map of where Joe's plane went down in France, and where he was sent in Germany. I told Emma about the pictures, about how his plane crashed, and he was captured by the enemy. I showed her the picture of Buchenwald and told her he was kept there for a long time. I showed her the pictures of the prisoners, emaciated and crammed in like sardines and told her Joe was not treated well and was not given enough to eat and almost died. I showed her the pictures of the crematoriums and told her that many, many men died there. And I showed her the pictures of Joe today, in his eighties and retired. I told her that he fought and almost died so that we could be free, and that many other men and women have fought and died for us, and still do today.

Emma was absolutely enthralled. I don't know if she really gets it that this is real and not just another story in a book, but she is mesmerized. First thing she said when she woke up this morning- "Mommy, will you show me the book and tell me the story of the plane crash and where the man got skinny?" So we went over it again. I have not yet read the book, but a bit of Joe's story is HERE in an article by CNN.

It is amazing that I have known of this man just as Joe Moser, Marty's childhood neighbor, but have never known what his life was like. I have been interested in the Holocaust since we learned about it in school, it is so hard to imagine what it must have been like in that time. Who else walks among us with stories to tell? I guess we all have stories to tell, but we never know what those stories are and where people come from. What wisdom lies in your next-door neighbor? Or the checker at the grocery store, your plumber or your furnace guy? Do we take the time to get to know these people who have so much wisdom, or are we so busy with our own lives that we don't bother?

I want to raise my kids to be interested in other people's lives, not just when it is convenient or easy. I truly believe we can learn so much from previous generations, their experiences are far different from our own. I am amazed at the heroism of Joe Moser and the many other super-heroes that make our country what it is today. It may sound silly and trite, but it is true, I am so incredibly proud to be an American. Thank you, Joe, for your amazing service. You are a hero!