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David Ian Howe


Anthropology | Archaeology | Dogs Scientist | Artist | Comedian YouTube ⬇️


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A WWII story from my uncle Ben.
I just learned that one of my favorite humans recently passed away.

I never met my maternal grandfather, but Ben Meltzer was the closest I had. He was a longtime partner to my great aunt Bernice (whom I considered a grandmother) later in her life, and was one of the most effortlessly hilarious people I knew.
Apparently, Ben never shared any stories of his experience in the War until his 90s. He told me it’s not that he didn’t want to share them, but he just didn’t know how to express what he saw into words.

Ben’s parents were Russian and Yiddish-speaking immigrants to NY. Of his three siblings, Ben was the only one to be born in the US. He grew up in Brooklyn, and later opened a clothing store after the war.
Ben was truly the only male elder of my maternal culture that I knew, and while there are many stories and even more hilarious quotes from him I could tell, learning about my heritage from him was more rewarding.

He taught me about schlemiels and schlimazels, always called the Christmas tree the “Hanukkah bush,” and told me a lot about Jewish history and morals. My biggest takeaways from him were that one should strive to be kind, educated, and most of all…funny.
In regards to antisemitism in the 40s, he told me that he experienced a lot of it when he was at Fort Belvoir for basic training. After weeks of dealing with light harassment that eventually turned more aggressive, he went to a “higher-up” and explained what was going on. But he was very explicit that he didn’t give any names because, “you don’t do that.” The next morning, he said “the four kids were shipped off the next day.” And while he felt bad, he was grateful he spoke up for himself and was later made a platoon sergeant.
Apparently, after the liberations, he would speak yiddish to Jewish civilians to let them know they were safe. He also told me that if anyone asked him, “are you a Jew?” He told them, “No, I’m an American Jew.” To him, as a son of immigrants that sacrificed to come here, being American should always come first. And given his service to our country, I can understand why.
RIP Sarge 🇺🇸

#ww2 #worldwarII #worldwar2 #secondworldwarvet #ww2veteran
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