I spent three years in Germany during my twenties.
It was one of the most memorable times of my life. I was a civilian working for the military at an Armed Forces Recreational Center.
I served those who served.
Really I taught the Littles of those who served how to ski, which wasn’t a bad gig in the German Alps.
In the summer I found random jobs; lifeguard, pizza delivery and one summer at the German-American Golf Course.
I worked in one of the most beautiful places on earth
It was also 1994, 50 years since World War II and the impact of what happened here two generations ago was palpable.
The golf course sold American candy which was crazy because we lived in the land of the very best chocolate and we were trying to pawn off Twix Bars and Reese’s Pieces. A German man would come in often and buy ten Hershey bars at a time.
I asked why the Hershey Bars.
“You have the very best chocolate! Right here! What’s so special about a Hershey Bar?”
He told me that the Americans came through Garmisch on April 29, 1945.
He was six.
“I was so hungry. We didn’t have anything left to eat. The soldiers arrived and they gave the children Hershey bars. They were the very best thing I ever ate. Nothing in the world tastes as good as a Hershey Bar.”
He carefully unwrapped the chocolate and gave me a piece. I closed my eyes and tried to taste what he tasted.
I could not
I have never been that hungry. I have never been that scared. I have not had my world turned upside down at age six.
As he ate I piece, he smiled and nodded his head; perhaps thoughts of hope, gratitude, memories of a six year old belly that felt a little less empty.
I felt so honored. Honored that this man shared this sacred memory and his sacred chocolate. Honored that he remembered the day 49 years ago not with tanks and strange men but with soldiers who share chocolate. And I felt honored that these brave men, my fellow Americans made this small boy feel so much better.
Happy Veterans Day.