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By Lea Haravon Collins
In 1944, my Mother made a bet.
Her family, one of the few permitted a radio in Nazi-occupied Romania, hosted gatherings for other Jews in Bucharest to hear news from England and other allied countries.
Every night, they crowded around the radio, listening hopefully to cryptic “personal messages” from Radio London, the broadcast station of the Free French. These coded communications were meant to signify something concrete to the allied forces, but to the civilians, they sounded like meaningless phrases: “the lady’s hat has a pink feather” or “Jacques has a long moustache.”
On the evening of June 5th, the host announced that there would be no personal messages that night. My Mom was so sure that this unusual statement meant that the Americans would land the next day that she proposed a bet with her Dad. Five Romanian lei (about one dollar) sealed the wager.
The next day, June 6, 1944, American, British, and Canadian troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Waiting and hoping for liberation from the Nazis, my Mom ran, overjoyed, to tell her father the news. She won, and now the allies would too.
Germany would surrender less than one year later.
My Mom, like so many Europeans, saw Americans as heroes who stood up to bullies, sacrificed of themselves to support the least fortunate, and whose values prevailed over fear and selfishness.
I hope that we act as we did seventy-eight summers ago, when the world needed us to have the strength, courage, and leadership to do the right thing.
I wonder if, somewhere in Kyiv, Lviv, or Odesa, a young Ukrainian daughter is making a bet with her Dad that the Americans will come soon.
I hope she wins.