Allen Hillje: Every day is Memorial Day

To the Editor:

As these thoughts were put on paper prior to Sept. 11 and I see the death toll and injury list grow, I hope that all Americans regardless of their political beliefs proudly display their American flag on behalf of all Americans.

We are not seperated by race, color or gender … we are Americans, and we all smile in the same language. Proudly display a flag for our brothers and sisters of past and future generations.

While in Prague (Chech Republic), reflecting back in time, I was walking over the once-communist streets of the city seeing all its beauty of architecture and enjoying their beer and food. We as Americans are greatly blessed with riches, abundance and freedom.

Reflecting back on Auschwitz and Birkenou concentration camps of Poland and seeing the shooting wall, standing in the spots of people who witnessed their last views on Earth and touching the ovens that turned their worldly bodies to ash, standing in a room known a the “Gas Chamber” and able to tell others about the gray walls that are underground, walls that were the last view of many.

This gives a person a sense of appreciation for what our country has done for America. We have our problems but nothing in contrast to other countries. Having seen over 27 countries, some by military and most as a civilian, one thing is common: The world dreams of the “American dream.”

Throughout the world people speak English even in parts too small to understand, but how many of us could even say “hello” in a European language? Music of American artists fills the speakers of cafes and restaurants all over the world. Our dollar is accepted almost anywhere in the world. Could we even pay for a cup of coffee in the states using a foreign currency?

In East Berlin, I spoke with a waitress shortly after the wall came down and with tear-filled eyes she explained her gratefulness for freedom and how it was for her under communism. In Germany, I helped a young woman with language to obtain a sleeping room. She left war-torn Bosnia to find work so she could send money home to send for her infant daughter, years before Americans could find Bosnia on a map.

We owe it to our forefathers who died on foreign soil to protect our interests here in the states. Those former Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy personnel who put out the spark before it ignited and before we felt the agony of war on our home front. Because of their unselfishness and devotion to duty and dedication to our way of life, we should all stand tall.

I’m a former Marine, small business owner and father of two sons, but most importantly, I’m a American just like you.

EVERY DAY IS MEMORIAL DAY. Fly your flag proudly.

Allen Hillje

Part-time Grand Lake resident

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