This is particular day started as any normal day, and even turned out to be a normal day. Yet, this day had brought forth two strange connections: one odd and one historical.
At handbell practice two of our members revealed their recent discovered they were second cousins as their grandfathers were brothers. It started with one telling the other that he looked like her uncle, and it went from there. A simple oddity of two people at the same church not only not knowing, they first met each other in late August.
The other oddity involved our opening our mail earlier the same day. My dad passed away in September, and one of his requests is that we notify out-of-towners listed in his address book; so, I wrote a two-page story of his life, and we started the process. Since then, my sister and I have received many thoughtful responses – but none was more interesting that the one I received on this day.
This particular one also told a story of Angelo, whom my dad met in 1995 when he returned to Austria as part of the 50th Anniversary of VE day. They remained in contact since that day. Coincidentally, Angelo had died around the time our letter arrived, so this letter was from his surviving wife of 59 years. I can only imagine the tears in her eyes as she wrote the letter.
Angelo was a factory laborer in Italy. Due to the difficult conditions caused by the war, workers had strikes in 1943 and 1944. In early 1944, authorities arrested Angelo and then deported him to Mauthausen-Gusen, a Nazi concentration camp. In May 1945, the US Army, of which my dad was a member, liberated the camps. Angelo’s widow wrote, “For the rest of his life he devoted himself to transit the memory to the younger generations, asking those who listened, not to allow a future recurrence of similar barbarism.”
Although we Baby Boomers not only grew up in the WW II shadows, we didn’t experience the world war first hand. Yet, our connection to that time is closer than we think. Meanwhile, I hope Angelo and Dad have reconnected.