It was in the first part of the
war that my family fled to Amsterdam, Holland. My parents hoping
to escape the Nazi regimen in Germany had packed a few belongings
and silently left our homeland. I was fourteen, it was the winter
of 1939 and Adolph Hitler had risen through the ranks and gained
power. I had witnessed first hand the cruelty and insanity of his
new world order. Jews who were my classmates and friends were
beaten, tortured, and taken from their homes to concentration
camps. Most of them I never saw again, not even after the
We thought at first our decision
was a wise one, but soon found out there could be no peace until
the war ended. Holland had declared itself as a neutral country
but soon realized the Fuehrer did not acknowledge neutrality. The
occupation of Holland took place in 1940. I had just turned
fifteen and the war we had hoped to leave behind soon caught up
to us. For five long years my parents and I worked with the
resistance. We prayed each day that help would come. In the
spring of 1945 the Allied forces did arrive and freed Holland of
the oppressive hand of the Nazi rule.
I met Jacob that spring. He was
in the United States Army. As his company rolled through
Amsterdam I watched him riding in a jeep. His smile was what made
me notice him. Jacob's face glowed and he reminded me of an
avenging angel. I never realized at that particular moment how
right I was. Though he was barely a man of twenty four he had
fought in many battles and led his troops to victory time after
time. He had been wounded on numerous occasions and lived to tell
the story of how God had spared him to free the people of Europe
from Hitler's tyranny.
We met early that spring at a
dance the people of Amsterdam had in honor of the American's
victory over the invading forces. I came to the celebration out
of curiosity and the desire to perhaps see this young hero. I was
not disappointed. We did meet and spent the night dancing and
dreaming of a better world, a world that was at peace with itself
and free of hatred and animosity. Time flew by quickly while
Jacob was there with me. Friendship soon blossomed into love and
we planned our future.
I remember the day Jacob
received his orders to ship out. The Americans were planning a
massive invasion; one they felt would end the war swiftly and
efficiently. We met by the old windmill just outside of town. It
had become the perfect spot for us to share our moments together.
The ocean of tulips surrounding us made me think happy thoughts,
but I knew from the look on his face that something was wrong.
When I asked him what had happened, he told me. I could hear the
regret and sadness in his voice. I tried to be brave and smiled.
We held each other for a very long time and swore to meet again
there at the windmill when the war was over. We also promised to
write each other daily. It was a promise I kept. As he left the
next day I watched with a heavy heart. I prayed God would keep
him safe and that he would return to me.
With Holland free to live in
peace, I finished my education and became a teacher. Each day it
was harder and harder for me to concentrate on life around me. I
would listen to the radio and scan the newspaper continuously
hoping to read that the war had ended, hoping to find Jacob
waiting for me at the old windmill. I wrote letters daily and
hoped they would reach my love, wherever he might be. Jacob would
send me letters as well. Sometimes with the mail being disrupted
by the war I might receive two or three of his letters at a time.
I poured over each word and saved each precious note he
In late spring of 1945 the war
ended for the people in Europe. Hitler not wanting to be punished
for his crimes against his fellow man killed himself. I waited
impatiently for Jacob to come back to me. Every day I grew more
restless and heartbroken. The letters he had been sending
faithfully stopped. The steady stream of well wishes and words of
passion dried up like a thirsty creek bed through a drought. My
mind became my worst enemy and I started to believe Jacob had
forgotten me and his promise. Still I walked each day to our
designated rendezvous thinking today he would be there waiting.
So many times I went with high hopes and aspirations and each
time my heart grew more cynical and concerned.
I did not know that Jacob had
been severely wounded in the last battle he and his troops had
been engaged in. Had I known he was injured I would have gone to
him immediately. Instead I imagined Jacob was either dead or had
chosen not to return for whatever reason.
My parents who had become
concerned about my obsession with Jacob began to hint to me that
perhaps it was time for me to live my life. After all he was
probably in America with a family of his own. Try as I might I
could not help but feel that something earth shattering had
happened to Jacob. Why else had he not returned?
It was early spring of 1948. Two
long, lonely years had transpired and still I ventured down the
road late in the evening. I remember the tulips were just
starting to bloom. I walked as if in a dream. Remorsefully I took
in the beauty around me, but my heart had become stone, nothing
could move me. A last cool breeze of late winter caused me to
pull my sweater around me. I told myself this would be the last
time I would make the trip. Wishing with all my heart and soul
Jacob might return I traveled the road slowly.
In the distance I saw a figure
standing and waving. I could not tell who it was at first.
Perhaps it was the farmer who owned the windmill or a friend of
mine. I could not tell immediately who was waiting there. I
walked on and soon saw the man running toward me. As he ran I
could tell one of his legs was impaired, for he had a funny gait.
All too soon it became apparent to me; the person that was fast
bearing down on me was Jacob.
How my heart sang with joy. I
picked up my own pace and was soon in his arms laughing and
crying. The first kiss we shared since last we parted was the
sweetest. If I live to be a hundred I will not forget that moment
when my world started again. Nothing since then has brought me
the elation and happiness I experienced at that
We were soon married and I
returned with Jacob to America. We sailed into New York harbor
and I caught my first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. My mind
reeled as it realized the true meaning of liberty and one's
pursuit of happiness. I write this for the generations who come
after me so they might better understand the importance of faith
and the need to fight for what you believe in. If not for Jacob's
desire to fight for freedom of the world, we would never have