Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas
Although Wonder Wife and I are Christians, we always celebrate the Hanukkah season each evening by lighting the candles on the Menorah we keep for that purpose. My affinity for Jews began when I clerked at Youngheimís Department store in Anadarko, Oklahoma. When it was time for college, Johnnie and Louise Youngheim presented me with a nice Ivy-League suit, some dress shirts with French cuffs, and some ties to match.
From Uncle Nathan and Miss Molly -- Youngheim relatives rescued from Nazi Germany --I learned some German and Yiddish. So, when I had a chance to attend the Army Language School, I chose German.
Years later, at Ft. Benning, my fluency in German got me assigned as Dr. Henry Kissingerís aide-de-camp for three days, albeit Dr. Kissingerís English was more than adequate. In fact, Henry Kissinger could make a living as a stand-up comedian, in either German or English. The night he arrived, he and his bottle of cognac kept us up conversing in German into the wee hours.
In 1966, another famous Jew awaited me in Vietnam. When I was a briefing officer for the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam, my boss said, "We have a famous guest tonight." As I looked down from the podium, there, wearing his famous black, eye patch, was General Moshe Dayan.
General Dayan told us he expected five Arab armies to attack Israel sometime in 1967. He came to the 1st Air Cavalry Division to learn how to use helicopters to deploy and redeploy his outnumbered forces. General Dayan, a charming character, stayed with us for over a week.
Sure enough, in June, 1967, General Dayan and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) had to repel and defeat five Arab armies during the "Six-day War."
One of my professors at The George Washington University (G.W.U.) extension campus at the Naval War College (NWC), was Boston University Professor Bernard Rubin. He and another professor, Taylor Peck, took extra time to coach my masterís thesis that resulted, in large measure, in my being named a Distinguished Graduate of the NWC. Fifty years later, I am acknowledging their help in my book: Formula for Failure in Vietnam: The Folly of Limited Warfare, McFarland Books, 2019.
Later on, Wonder Wife and I traveled to South Korea with Boston University President John Silber. We became friends and pen pals. Silberís father was Jewish, albeit we and John were Protestants.
So, when Wonder Wife and I light the Hanukkah candles, we think about the Jews we have known over the years. We think about the Jews defending Megiddo and Masada, the Holocaust, and the eight wars the Jews have fought to defend their historic homeland.
As is often the case, Hanukkah (this year, December 22-30) and the Christmas Season overlap. All the more reason to be joyous and mindful of the blessings we Americans -- whose religious freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment -- have inherited from the Judeo-Christian traditions that informed our Founding Fathers as they wrote our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.
It can be said that we are all Jews. But when it came to the Messiah, some of us were a bit more impatient than others.
©2019. William Hamilton.
William Hamilton, a former intelligence officer, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. Dr. Hamiltonís Formula for Failure in Vietnam: The Folly of Limited Warfare was published on November 20, 2019. To order, call toll free: (800) 253-2187 Or, go to Amazon.com.