By David Coy
Hans Nowak was born in Aussig, Czechoslovakia, in 1928. He lived during the domination of Hitler, and when the Communists took over his country, he and his family were forced to serve as ‘slave-labor.’ Later, he and his family were forced into exile, leaving behind all their belongings and their homeland history. After 11 months in the Russian zone, he escaped to the west and went to Frankfurt, Germany. What was it like to live during the time of Communist occupation? What humiliation and anguish to be forced into slavery? What sorrow to be uprooted as a youth from all you know and to experience what most in this country cannot imagine. Obviously, this was not the end of this extraordinary individual. He survived, rose up and overcame his tribulations and lived a very productive and giving life.
It has been said that if we do not learn from our past, we will be doomed to repeat it. I find this statement to be very interesting. Yes, if we have a negative past and do not learn from it, we might perhaps repeat errors we made. What of our past beneficial attributes? Would they not be worth remembering and relearning? As a country we would do well to remember our history, the moral and cultural qualities we have laid aside and/or forgotten. Individually, we also may learn from our past and the blessings we have experienced with positive relationships that had a profound influence on our lives and be thankful for the time we had and potential of lessons learned. “Are you ever burdened with a load of care? When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost…amid the conflict, whether great or small…count your many blessings, name them one by one…help and comfort give you till your journey’s end.”
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