I served in the Air Force in Berlin for a number of years. My best friend was the son of a German mother and American father. We spent a lot of time with his family near Bremerhaven.

Just for fun, we used to enjoy riding the U-Bahn in Berlin in our American uniforms. I say fun, because people would assume like typical Americans we didn’t speak German. Sometimes they would talk about us within our hearing.

So we would get a kick out of letting that go on for a while and then eventually begin to speak German loudly together.

It was just for fun, as I say. People would look shocked and embarrassed and then we would usually end up laughing together. I don’t remember anyone ever saying anything cruel about us or the United States. As you say, we might have heard some criticism, but none of it was made without at least some foundation of appreciation and respect.

I think I’d be afraid to pull that joke today in Berlin. I’m afraid what I would hear would be something altogether different. I don’t know where we are going as a nation, but from my point of view we have clearly lost our way and we are going nowhere good.

I sincerely hope I am feeling that negative only because of the current occupant of the White House and the political process he has engendered.

I hope after sound defeat, the radio crazies and others he has inspired will begin to quiet down again.

I have no confidence that will happen.

Thanks for your story.

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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