Planes roaring overhead, people dancing,
Men strutting drunkenly down the unpaved street,
Laughing, singing, shouting:
“The Russians are here! The Russians are here!”
My uncle is one of them,
The center of any celebration.
We — Mother, Uncle and I — had found shelter on a farm near Warsaw.
Our building had been bombed,
As was most of the city after the Polish Uprising in October 1944.
I am five years old.
Not sure what it is all about.
The roaring of the planes,
The rowdy laughter of the men stumbling down the road,
The women crying, laughing, dancing.
It is bewildering.
I have a new identity.
We are political refugees in Belgium.
I am not Catholic any more, but Jewish.
That “Uncle” is my real father,
The Polish soldier/father for whom I have been yearning never existed.
The years following bring instability:
Changing schools, learning new languages,
Moving again — to Germany, the country of the enemy.
Nevertheless, the Americans are there. It is safe.
Yet, I long to get out, to breathe freely.
I am still in captivity.
I marry an American Army Chaplain,
Am embraced by the American military community.
Real freedom is within grasp.
We, my husband and two small children arrive in the States,
A dream fulfilled.
Glorious spring day 1967:
I become an American citizen.
Read more by Felicia Graber.