By Joseph Kellard
Occasionally an unusual, even incredible story falls onto a journalist's lap. It happened to me in 2003, when I was a reporter for the Oceanside-Island Park Herald. After Ed Hynes read my article on Nat Glanz, these two fellow World War II prisoners of war decided to reunite.
It's incredible that they had met for just 10 minutes in a Nazi prison camp nearly six decades before, yet Hynes remembered Glanz from certain details in my article about his war experiences. Incredibly, they had both lived in Oceanside all those years, and even belonged to the same veterans organization, but never knew about each other until after my story appeared in the Herald.
That story still makes me reflect on my seven-plus years as a reporter, writing about people from many walks of life, and how among all of them, I’ve come to learn about and respect no group of individuals more than war veterans. Growing up, I'd never attended Memorial Day or Veterans Day ceremonies. But after hearing the vets and their supporters speak while I reported on those events, particularly after Sept. 11, 2001, I began to understand their significance more deeply. And no vets are more significant to me than those who fought in World War II.
They were called on to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan, two evil regimes bent on America’s destruction. With the fall of both regimes at American hands — especially the decimation of two Japanese cities with atomic bombs — our leaders set an example to the equally evil Soviet regime (a parasitic "ally"), which sought world-wide Communist rule, that it too could meet with our nation’s unprecedented military might and will to use it.
This is why men such as Hynes and Glanz — who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, were imprisoned together in a Nazi camp, and witnessed the tragedies of war-torn Europe — should be admired and endlessly thanked. They put their lives on the line so that they, their loved ones and all of us can enjoy the freedoms that have made America the most advanced, prosperous and greatest nation in history — a status earned thanks to our forefathers’ original and core ideal that each individual has an inalienable right to his life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
When I watched as Hynes and Glanz embraced and exchanged war stories at their first meeting in sixty years, I realized how special it was for me to be among two members of a rapidly shrinking fraternity who fought in history’s most significant war. I still think about how vets like them are ordinary men, but are nonetheless extraordinary in what they helped accomplish. In short, they fought to preserve the only ultimate hope for mankind and civilization: the United States of America.
Today, I am also reminded of how we are in the midst of a new war (well, actually a war whose origins can be traced to the Iranian theocrats who took Americans hostage in 1979), one in which we face an enemy of Islamic radicals who are as evil, and in certain respects more dangerous, than their Nazi and Communist predecessors. They seethe with hatred for America’s ideals and her outstanding success, and they seek not merely to conquer, but to annihilate us infidels and our way of life, and would certainly do so if given the chance.
Hynes and Glanz embody an era of Americans who righteously and confidently faced down, fought and destroyed those earlier threats to this great nation. Let's hope the lessons of their lives, and the moral certainty with which they and their leaders’ fought World War II, are not lost on us today. Those lessons and, more importantly, their implementation in action are our only hope.
Joseph Kellard is a journalist and columnist living in New York.
Please post comments about this article. For inquiries about Joseph Kellard’s writing services, email him at: Theainet1@optonline.net.