Of course, today I’m thinking a lot about freedom and independence.
Earlier this week, we spent some time at my grandmother’s house. We let the kids swim, and had lunch. She made “Schenkinfleckel”, a German noodle and ham dish that I love, but should avoid if I’m trying to watch my diet…(I didn’t, though – Oh well!).
My grandfather was a sergeant/major in the army during WWII. He was a West Virginian, who grew up during the Depression (similar to the “Walton’s”), a country-boy who was part Cherokee Indian – so, very well suited to be a tough army “Sarge”. During the war, his “command” ended up in a little German town where they set up their headquarters in the largest house in town. There he met a beautiful German girl named Johanna.
After his troop was transferred, Johanna had to escape in the night because the Nazis were coming to “take them away” – her father was known in town as a big business man, and it was rumored that her mother was a Jew. Her father died of a heart attack as he was being taken away, but the rest of the family made their escape in the night. Of course, through all of this the “Sarge” and Johanna lost contact because they had no way to find out where the other had ended up.
Johanna finally arrived at a safe house where they knew of the American army man, and they were able to get a message to him. Johanna and the sergeant were married shortly after this at an army base, and she came to America with nothing but a few treasures she was able to hide from the Nazis as she crossed over the boarder into Switzerland (much like “The Sound of Music”).
The sergeant and his German sweetheart had three daughters: Eloise (Elli), Johanna (Joey), and Dorothy (Dottie), and Joey had four daughters of which I am the oldest. So, my little German grandmother is Johanna who escaped so many years ago, so that now she can make us all “Schenkinfleckel” and her wonderful braided bread – which I discovered recently is exactly like “Challah” a Jewish bread…so, now when I eat it, or make it myself, I feel connected again to my great-grandmother who had to hide her identity so many years ago just to stay alive.
So, because of the strength and courage of my grandparents, I’m here today, able to spend the morning with my kids – able to have a leisurely “Fourth of July” cleaning my house and preparing to go on vacation…not anything like having to leave all of your possessions in the middle of the night, or fighting in a war as a young soldier in a foreign land. I have the opportunity to do the many things that bring me so much joy – even worshiping God – because of their sacrifice.
So, Independence Day really resonates for me. And I know there are others being strong and courageous even as I type, so that we can even celebrate a day such as this. To say I’m grateful would be an understatement, but I am. I am a multi-cultural sold-out Christ-follower with a flair for the dramatic who has the ability to express my opinions and hopes and dreams, all because of FREEDOM and SACRIFICE.
I am so thankful for these blessings. It’s Independence Day, and tonight as I see the fireworks explode, I will remember…and think of all of those who’ve gone before me who’ve paid for my freedom. It’s a beautiful thing!
Happy Wednesday, and happy, happy Independence Day!