Boys help rebuild Rotterdam: Piling bricks neatly, Dutch boys do their bit toward restoring Rotterdam, which was blasted by bombs in May 1940 after the Dutch Surrendered to the Germans.
Something happened today at my church that gives me hope. First, the background.
I’m a retired Army officer, my wife is a retired teacher, we live in a rural Virginia county that consistently votes 60-40 Republican. The prejudice against Democrats and people of color here reminds me of my SW Mississippi home where I grew up, 1944 – 1962.
Our United Methodist Church is small — 150 members, most of them elderly, weekly attendance 50-55, a small group of us do everything at the church from cutting the grass to putting on fish fries and community outreach days.
There are two foreign-born couples in our church, British and Dutch. All four of them are my age — mid-70’s; all born in their native countries in the closing days of WW II. All are US citizens now, though they go back home at least once a year. The Brits are members of our local Democratic Party while the Dutch couple are Republicans.
On the second Sunday of each month we have a pot-luck lunch after church service — church furnishes barbecue and fried chicken, we all bring sides and desserts.
One of our regular members is an outspoken Republican, to the point of getting on a lot of nerves. We were seated at a round table today at the potluck — wife and I, the Brits, the Dutch couple, the outspoken Republican and silent wife, and the former pastor of the church.
We had barely sat down before the outspoken Republican asked the Brits and Dutch why Trump had been treated so badly over the past few days. Silence. Then, the Brits and the Dutch unloaded on him with heavy artillery. Here is a summary of what they said — this is only a summary — you should have been there. Went on for 15 minutes, non-stop.
Both British and Dutch couples said:
“We were born in the last days of WW II. We grew up watching our towns, cities, roads, bridges, industries being rebuilt from the destruction brought on us by one man — Adolf Hitler.”
“More than the physical recovery was the mental, emotional and political recovery. We asked ourselves for years and years — and some of us still ask ourselves — how was it possible for a man and a system that evil to come to power?”
Then the Dutch lady stood up.
“My father was a wealthy businessman who knew Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father. We Europeans study our history and we know how Hitler came to power. We are determined that it will not happen again. I’m a Republican but I did not vote for Trump and I will not vote for Trump because when I look at Trump and when I listen to Trump I see and hear Hitler. You want to know why Europeans don’t like Trump? Because we were destroyed by Nazis and Trump is a Nazi. You Americans do not see what Trump is doing because you never lived through it. We lived through Hitler. Never, never again.”
And she sat down.
By that time, many of us were almost in tears. The Republican’s wife tugged at his sleeve, whispered in his ear, and they left.
As the conversation went on, people seated nearby became quiet and listened. After the Republican couple left . . . well, let’s just say it was an emotional few minutes that ended in prayers for our nation. The pastor pronounced a benediction — Amos 5:24:
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!