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A Smokie For My Sister

Opinion Editorial
April 9, 2003

By Anne McIntyre

The war in Iraq rages on, but, as we all expected, will be won by the Allies very shortly. France and Germany are conspicuously silent- their protests at losing their lucrative 100 billion dollar contracts with the Saddam Regime are going up in the smoky plumes of 1 and 2 ton bombs. Basra is now under the control of the British and Baghdad will fall to the Yanks. Thank God.

Let me tell you about the Yanks. In 1945, when I was a mere 5 years old, my Dad took me with him to the heather fields outside Bussum, the Netherlands. We watched while the American airplanes dropped thousands of food packs onto the fields. Wheat flour, ascorbic acid, dried milk, all the things which meant life to a starved people. I sat in the basket on the back of Dad’s bicycle and watched the sky fill up with food. Dad worked with the other Resistance men and women to get the food distributed. I remember one of the Red Cross nurses giving me some little pills: Vitamin C. It tasted sour and good and to this day I remember it.

A day later Patton’s Yanks came to our town.

All the flags were out, all the people outside, running to the soldiers and hugging them, cheering them on. One of our neighbors ran out shouting at the soldiers: “Your wife, tell me her name, tell me, tell me!” One soldier turned, smiled and answered laughing: “It’s Kathleen.” “My new daughter’s name is Kathleen,” the man hollered. We were too small to be in the streets. But my Aunt, who was maybe 19 or 20 years old, let us hang out of the second story window and wave small American flags at the passing soldiers. The long convoy came to a temporary halt and the soldiers looked up at us. My Aunt was a very pretty gal and she had taught me a new phrase. Whispering the English words, she’d egg me on to shout at the soldiers. “A smokie for my sister,” I yelled, ” Please, a smokie for my sister.” I guess that now that there was bread and milk and we all felt better and no longer hungry, my Aunt’s next wish was for an American cigarette. “Come and get ’em, darlin’,” was the answer from the street. I remember running downstairs and opening the door, getting to the voice. “Here you are,” as the big soldier picked me up and showed me to his buddies. They gave me oranges and gum and two packs of cigarettes. Lucky Strikes.

The Dutch have yet to break ranks with America, I am happy to say: When General Tommy Franks introduced the Allied Commanders during the first press conferences he held, he named Jan Blom of the Netherlands right up there on the podium with him. As it should be, my father would have said.

Something happened to me when CNN started showing pictures of the Yanks taking down the Saddam imagery, of the Yanks bringing water to Basra, handing out food packets. But I found myself crying at the pictures of a Yank with an Iraqi child here and there. In the midst of all the reports on the bombings, on Al Jezeera we see Aziz still claiming victory for Saddam- like the knight without arms or legs in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when he yells: “You yellow bastards! … I’ll bite your legs off!”- yeah, AS IF!! In the midst of Kurds, Shiites, Babylonians and Arabs I see the Yank and the child and the tears flow. The generosity, the very kindness of the gratuitous act that set me free and treated me gently nearly 60 years ago still shines on the face of the American soldier. Iraq and her people stand a chance now. Those little children will remember. I was and still am one of them.


Copyright 2003, Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

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A. R. MCINTYRE is the Institute’s ancient factotum.

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