A POW’s Hope Never Forgotten

March 25th, 2009

number-tatooThe only thing that evil and failure needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing and hope to be lost in the noise of life.

Hope isn’t some passive thing that we hold onto like air when we have nothing else. Hope moves us forward so that evil and failure never have a chance to overtake that which must never be overtaken. Hope is action. Hope is movement. It’s a belief that things will be better. Today’s a good day. I may not feel like it, but I’m stronger today than I was yesterday and tomorrow, no matter what it brings, will be better than today. I am a champion. I am not a failure and I am not what others say I am.

Let me briefly tell you a story about Adam. Adam was a tailor on the military installation in Grafenwoehr Germany. When I served there back in the 1980′s I would visit with Adam as he sewed soldiers uniforms and he shared stories from the past that probably seemed like just yesterday. He told about how he had been captured by the Nazi’s during the second world war and was tatooed with a number on his forearm which he showed to me. I looked at that number knowing that a Nazi had tatooed those numbers on his arm many years ago and there were just as clear today as they were then. So too were the memories in Adams mind.

He told me stories about how he had to survive and although he was scheduled for execution, he worked mending clothing during his captivity because of the Hope that was within him. He believed. He had no reason to believe that things would be different. HE WAS SCHEDULED FOR EXECUTION! Do you get that? He was going to die within days! But he worked anyway. He pressed on as if things were going to be different. He fixed hems. He darned socks. He resewed collars. He made people who were about to die feel better in the second, third, fourth hand clothes that they had been given. They were probably wearing clothing of people who had been killed perhaps only hours before they stepped off a train in their new camp. Their camp of death.

Adam lost almost everything during his time with the Nazi’s. But he never let them take his Hope. Then, as it approached the eleventh hour so-to-speak, the Americans arrived, the battle was fought, and Adam was saved along with the others who were about to die. Adam never forgot that.

Adam remained on the installation using his talents for the next 60 years. THAT is thankfulness. His room on post, in the military police barracks, was lined with photographs of generals and privates alike. I believe there was even a picture of retired Army General Tommy Franks.

Adam held onto his Hope even when there was no reason to hold on. He expressed his appreciation for the next 60 years. I’ve seen the tatoo, I’ve heard the memories and I’ve seen the mans eyes. He was a man of hope. Whether you believe it or not, that kind of hope is within you too. It’s there. Don’t believe that evil and failure is the only option. Do something. Even if there doesn’t seem like there is any reason to do it. Hang in there. Don’t give it a chance to win. We have a choice.

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5 Responses

  1. Bob Bush Says:

    Adam had his room down the hall from mine I n the barracks. I was lucky to spend many an hour visiting with him. Thanks for telling others of his story.

  2. Graf Customs Says:

    Great view of Adam. kudos to the 536th MP Co. And while i was there, CPT Gudeau, I was with the 193rd MP Co I still have Adams sewing jobs, he delivered his work on a bike, I was “50-50″ with Adam, but gained his respect later, he died while I was there, the comander of the 193rd MP Customs, Michael J Yurk respected him greatly, Thanks for remembering Adam.

  3. Dave Vona Says:

    This morning for no specific reason I was searching the net about Grafenwohr. I was stationed as an MP 793rd Co.B in Graf 4/69-10/70. I remember Adam fondly.
    I never forgot his personal survival story or the numbered tattoo on his arm. He was very upset one day when the paper reported that a German woman in prison for designing lampshades out of human (Jewish) skin wanted an early release due to illness. He would do work for many on the post and loved it when my wife would come in for some sewing help. As PLL clerk on parts runs I would often drive him to Nurnberg where he lived with his German wife. And sometimes complained of his “Nazi” neighbor that killed his pigeons. MP’s of the 793rd were all his friend. Thanks for the memories.

  4. Blaine Christensen Says:

    I had the pleasure and fortune to know Adam from 1978 to 1984 while I was stationed in Grafenwoehr and Bayreuth. His genuine love of everyone assigned to the unit and willingness to help everyone was unique to me. We spent hours taking as he sewed my patches and uniforms for me. I was but 18 the first time we me, and his stories were sobering to say the least. Though Adam may now be gone, his memory lives on in all of us who were lucky enough to have met and known him. RIP brother!

  5. Jesus Lucio Says:

    Thank you for reminding me of Adam. Very few people, outside of my family have affected me as much as this lovely man. I was 19 in 1972 when I first met him and learned why our CO, Cpt Avila, allowed a civilian to reside in the barracks with us. I was the Supply Clerk who worked under Sgt Ralph Russo. Adam always gave me good advice and even got hurt and offended when I didn’t take it. That’s because he truly cared about all of us and only wanted to help; I learned that later. Rest in Peace Adam and thank you for everything.

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