A tale from World War II

I've mentioned that we are producing a book this fall from a special section the newspaper published in 1994 about World War II.

I'm reading the first proof of the book today and came across a passage that has captured my attention every single time I've read it, so I thought I would share it. (This appears in a chapter about the fighting in Europe; we've left the ages as they were in 1994):

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An experience Donald Nelson had in France changed his perspective on the enemy.

“The Germans were in the woods directly opposite of us,” recalled the 72-year-old Champaign man who was with the Air Forces’ ground operations.

“For some reason, I got up early on a Sunday morning. I was armed both with a rifle and a sidearm. I trained my field glasses right at the edge of their woods. Here was a young German officer and, lo and behold, he was training his field glasses at me.

“We were both within rifle range. I’m sure we were both very capable of shooting at each other. But I looked at his face. It was a good face. This was to me a nice young man, the kind of person you’d like to meet. I saw no evil in that face. I saw no malice in that face.

“We saluted. He saluted me at the same time I saluted him. Then he stepped back into his woods, and I stepped back into my woods.

“I’ve thought about this so much. I hope … that he lived. I hope he’s a healthy and happy old man in Germany now.”

 

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