April 19, 1997 in Features

I’M Proud To Be An American

Ann Landers Creators Syndicate
 
Tags:column

Dear Ann Landers: The columns you printed about the Danes and Finns fighting to save their Jewish populations in World War II were truly remarkable and very much appreciated. Here’s one other story that deserves mention:

There were 2,800 young Americans who went to Spain in 1936 to fight fascism in the Spanish Civil War. They knew the danger that was growing in Europe. At least half of these volunteers were killed. Those men and women joined 45,000 other volunteers from 52 countries and fought under the names of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. These armies were fully integrated, with African Americans being completely accepted. (Interestingly enough, many of the Americans were Jews who knew firsthand about discrimination from their experiences in the United States.)

My father was a survivor of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and later fought in World War II. Last November, 60 years after the Spanish Civil War, Spain invited the volunteers back for special honors and citizenship - all expenses paid. The tribute was overwhelming, and the 68 Americans who attended said it was the most moving experience of their lives.

While there are 52 memorials to the Brigades in England, there is only one in the United States. Please remind Americans of this proud and honorable time and the heroism of these fighters for freedom. - Minneapolis

Dear Minn.: Your letter is a much more powerful reminder than anything I might say. Thank you for making us proud to be Americans. Read on for more about acts of heroism:

Dear Ann Landers: Your columns about Scandinavian countries saving their Jewish populations brought me back to a cold morning in the late fall of 1944 when I was a prisoner in Buchenwald.

As I walked out of our tent, I saw a large group of shivering men in green uniforms penned into the enclosure next to mine. It was the police force of Copenhagen, rounded up because they refused to cooperate with the Nazis. During the next several months, I had the opportunity to work next to these marvelous people. I learned to admire their discipline, solidarity and humanity. Although often hungry, they shared their meager food with us.

Throughout their internment, they were engaged in a systematic effort to sabotage any Nazi attempts to exploit their labor. One evening, when the whole camp was assembled, the commandant got on the PA and threatened the policemen for refusing to work and for “walking around on the work site with their hands in their pockets as if they were in the Copenhagen fish market” - a citation which made them very proud.

Denmark and its police force surely deserve our highest admiration. - Annandale, Va.

Dear Ann Landers: In one of your columns, a reader said Denmark was the only Scandinavian country to stand up to Hitler and save its Jewish population. He didn’t mention countries outside of Scandinavia.

King Boris III of Bulgaria, ruler from 1918 to 1943, was continually pressured by Hitler to join the Nazi effort. He steadfastly refused to cooperate. Even though Bulgaria was officially allied with Germany, not one soldier did he send to Hitler’s army, nor did he allow one Bulgarian Jew to be deported to Poland. King Boris is one of the lesser-known heroes of that time. - Roxana, Ill.

Dear Roxana and Annandale: Thank you for educating my readers and me. We have a tendency to forget how fortunate we are to live in a democracy and to be grateful for the courageous people who fought and died that we might be free.


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