It was cold. So cold you could not imagine unless you had experienced it. Well below zero. He was eleven years old and dressed in rags. He hadn’t eaten for three days. The last thing he’d eaten was a frozen turnip, it had made him sick. He was so hungry, so cold. His family had been destroyed; his home and all the people he knew had been destroyed. A great war raged around him, that he didn’t really understand. He moved through the snow.
He came across the body of a soldier in an overcoat, he wanted that overcoat. He needed that overcoat. It was very difficult taking an overcoat off a frozen corpse. He did it. In the blinding snow, he dug a pit and in his overcoat lay there and pulled the snow over him. He prayed to his Christian God that that night he may die and go to heaven. He fell into an exhausted sleep.
Miraculously, amazingly he survived the night. Digging himself out of his snow pit he was confronted by a high sun, a bright brilliant day, a shinning white world with the snow covering the scars of war. He stood there in his too big overcoat, cold, hungry, oh so cold, so hungry, but he knew the day was his, he didn’t know how, he didn’t know why, but it was his. He was discovered by a forward patrol of eight American soldiers, only ten or twelve years older than he was. He was terrified, all he saw was uniforms and guns. One of the soldiers unwrapped a small bar of chocolate and carefully offered it to him, saying quietly ” Happy Christmas kid “. Tentatively he took it. He ate ravenously.
With all that American generosity and warmth, it was ” Come on kid, you come with us”, they took him to their base, fed him on meat and potatoes which he devoured like the hungriest wolf in the world. They put him on a mattress and covered him with blankets. He slept and he slept and he slept. He became their mascot. Where they went, he went. Slowly he began to speak their strange language. Slowly he was becoming an American.
Five of them smuggled him into America, the other three were left dead on the killing fields of Europe. He quickly became legal, and grew up in Los Angeles, growing into a beautiful man who many of you have seen many times. He’s an old man now, his grandchildren have children. No I’m not going to tell you who he is, he wouldn’t want you to know. He’d simply want you to know the story of his beginning.
Happy Christmas everybody, Happy Christmas.
William ‘Hornets’ Wilde.