I take a look around and what do I see, a little piece of history looking right back at me...
I don't know if I have said this here before, but the world if full of wondrous images for us. Some we see only for an instant as they unfold right before our eyes and are gone. I have often seen something happening by myself and though.."wow, I am the ONLY person that will ever see that happen just like that at that moment!". Many times though, through the magic of photography, one such moment came to me from a far away place over 60 years ago....
I had to take my daughter to the dentist earlier this week. Being only eight, I went back to the room with her and the dental hygienist. I was sitting there while we waited for her to start and I saw the following picture on the wall....
..interesting I though, so I snapped a picture of the picture on my cell phone. I asked the hygienist about the pic. Being an "older" woman I expected her to tell me that was her father in the picture. Surprisingly I was told that was one of her former patients, who has since passed on, over in Europe in WWII shortly after liberating a concentration camp. He had waited in line to have his picture taken with the woman in the photo, and the soldiers in line behind him are waiting to do the same. He had carried this picture with him for years as a patient of hers and she finally asked if she could make a copy of it. So what you have there is a picture of a copy of a picture.
That woman in the photograph is none other than the actress Marlene Dietrich. A native of Germany, she was a movie staple of the early part of the "golden age" of cinema in the 20's and 30's...at the time she was one of the highest paid actresses in the world. She was also a staunch anti-Nazi who publicly criticized Adolph Hitler and the party. She loved America so much though that in 1939 she became a citizen. During WW2 she brazenly went to the front lines to support the war by entertaining the troops, often within mere miles of German guns. She hung out with the like of Gen. George Patton so her "Hooah" meter is way above mine and you gotta respect that. At the time of the picture she was in her 40's and a bit past her prime as far as looks went for a leading lady..unlike the studio picture below depicts..but for a bunch of GI's in the middle of a war zone she must of looked like an angle from heaven at the time.
She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her actions...and damn well she should have.
As for the GI in the picture..never got his name. That's the way with life. We often think of ourselves as lead characters in our own personal play, but for the most part are play minor roles in a larger piece. He's gone now and I know not his name. Maybe some day my picture will unknowingly grace the page of someones blog, or whatever the future version of this is called, and people will ask "who was he?". Truth is, we are all the same in the end...nameless. Even in time the name Marlene Dietrich (not necessarily a household name today anyway) will be forgotten. What history and people will remember is the outcome of the great play we did have a role in, not our particular parts.
So, I give thanks to both this unnamed soldier and Ms. Dietrich. The gift both of you gave by your service to my country is appreciated by this humble viewer of this glimpse into your pasts.
The world is a pretty big and amazing place...take a look around once in a while, you'll be amazed what is staring back at you.
2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)