View Full Version : "Thank you for my existence":

04-09-03, 08:11 PM

To America's Soldiers
An open letter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2003 12:01 a.m. EDT

I want to thank you for my existence. I want to thank you for your sacrifices, and for your courage, because without your heroism, this world would indeed be a different place. Were it not for the brave soldiers who liberated my father from Dachau, and my mother and her family from the Nazi slaveholders, I would not be here today. Nor would millions of others, all of whom remain indebted to you.

My mother and her family lived under the boot of the Soviets, then became slave laborers for the Nazis. Beaten, starved and terrorized, they could only hope for freedom. My father died a young man. Four years of terror and torture in Dachau left its mark on him. My uncle died at the hands of the Soviets, a bullet in his chest because he refused to remove a cross from the wall. My grandfather died in the U.S.S.R., never having been allowed to leave. He never saw his wife, children or grandchildren again.

When American and Allied forces bombed Nazi Germany, the slaves, prisoners of war and concentration-camp inmates cheered. They were forced to work the fields and in the factories even as the bombers flew overhead. Yet they cheered. They knew that their liberation was at hand. Even as they knew they might not live to see their freedom, they cheered. The miserable existence that they endured under the boot of the Nazis and the Soviets would not break their spirit or resolve, or their love of the soldiers who were losing their lives to liberate them. They prayed for their liberators, never faltering in the belief that they would succeed.

I asked my mother what she thought of war. "It is a terrible thing, but if it means freedom to those who have none, if it means safety for the world, then there is no question what has to be done," She said. "Those who have not suffered under the terror of oppression, those whose lives have been privileged and free, will never understand the sacrifices of those who died for liberty and freedom. It is easy to criticize our leaders from the safety, warmth and comfort of their homes and mansions. While they eat the bread of America, and benefit from the democracy and freedom of speech afforded us by this great nation, they show the ultimate disrespect toward our President and our troops."

An elderly and wise woman, my mother is forever grateful for her life. She is ill, her body ravaged by the hell she went through as a young woman, yet she still has the fight in her that kept her a survivor. The values she instilled in me gave me the courage to serve my country, giving back a small part of what had been given to me.

I remember, as a child, the packages of aid that came to our refugee camp in Germany. Huge tins of processed cheese, warm blankets, dried milk and sometimes chocolate. When the soldiers came, they would give us a stick of gum, a huge smile and a wink. I remember their uniforms; they were handsome and oh so dashing! We were a poor bunch of little kids, but we giggled shyly and tried to communicate. They patted our heads or picked us up to hug us. It wasn't occupation, it wasn't arrogance, it wasn't domination; it was kindness, it was dedication to their cause of freedom, and it was their love of humanity. And it left a lasting impression on me.
As I look upon the faces of our military today, these courageous men and women, brave, compassionate yet fierce in their cause to liberate the Iraqi people, I pray for them all. American, British, Australian, Polish and the scores of others who are facing yet another tyrant. My heart swells with pride and love for those who have given up so much to make this world a better place.

There is no country in the world that can say Americans, when they came to liberate a land, forced our language, culture or religions on anyone. Those of us who chose to embrace this wonderful land do so wholeheartedly, without coercion or force. We do it because we are true patriots. We know what sacrifices were made for our freedom.

May God protect and keep you in his care so that you return to your loved ones. May your families have the support and love of this country we call land of the brave and the home of the free, and may the people of the world never forget the ultimate sacrifice of our troops.

Ms. Makuch received the FBI's Lewis E. Peters Memorial Award in 1992 for her two decades as a double agent spying on the Soviets.