Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence From The Past Day

I've only been able to celebrate Independence Day a few times in the States since 1998. Usually I'm enjoying friendly German hospitality at a Schutzenfest, a popular celebration that combines shooting, drinking, Catholicism, patriotism, marching bands and Senior Prom. The one thing that makes me a little uncomfortable are the salutes to fallen German heroes from the World Wars.

It reminds me of the dilemma faced by President Reagan years ago when he visited a German cemetary:
These [SS troops] were the villains, as we know, that conducted the persecutions and all. But there are 2,000 graves there, and most of those, the average age is about 18. I think that there's nothing wrong with visiting that cemetery where those young men are victims of Nazism also, even though they were fighting in the German uniform, drafted into service to carry out the hateful wishes of the Nazis. They were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.

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