No California politics or business today. Rather this is the story of what happened after the Washington Post put up my article last week about my family’s travels almost two decades ago to a place in Luxembourg where my father saw action during World War II.
The article, which I wrote for a Smithsonian and Zocalo Public Square co-sponsored project entitled What it Means to be an American, was published a week ago Monday. You can find here. It dealt with my travels to Wiltz, Luxembourg with a goal to visit a World War II museum dedicated to the Battle of the Bulge in that town. My father, Tec 4 Sargent Harry Fox, earned his Bronze Star fighting around the town.
There were frustrations when I found the museum closed for the season but as I described in the piece, I eventually found my way in and enjoyed the warmth of the local residents once I said the magic words, “My father was here during the war.”
In the article, I also told the story of Corporal Dick Brookins who had played St. Nick for the local children in Wiltz. The first time such a celebration was held since the Nazi occupation four years before. A hotel owner who was a member of the museum board (I couldn’t recall his name for the piece) gave us a private tour of the museum and showed us a video of a CNN report when Cpl. Brookins came back to celebrate with the townspeople many years later.
Once the piece was posted, I thought that was the end of it.
One of my son’s college friends read the piece and said he knew Dick Brookins’ grandson. The next day I learned that Mr. Brookins had been sent the piece and he sent a comment to his grandson that found its way back to me.
The old soldier wrote, “What a follow up story!” He said the German troops recaptured Wiltz only 10 days after he played St. Nick, and that his company lost 32 men.
My Dad’s division re-took Wiltz during the Battle of the Bulge.
The next day I received a phone call from the president of the small museum in Wiltz that I visited all those years before. He said that numerous people had sent him a copy of the article – including one copy that was sent over by the United States Embassy in Luxembourg.
Ah, the power of the Internet!
An hour later the phone rang again and this time it was the hotel owner who gave us our private tour and hosted us at his hotel bar nearly two decades before as related in the Washington Post article. I now had his name again, Vic Weber. We talked for 30 minutes.
I learned that the museum has been refurbished and will be re-dedicated the last week of November to celebrate the 70th anniversary of what the townspeople call “the American St. Nick.”
And 92-year old Dick Brookins will be on hand for the ceremony.