German hand-delivers flag to Madras
German visitorGERMAN VISITOR
Old Glory became scarce in the States as citizens rushed to purchase flags to show their patriotism following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
But last week Madras resident Dan Schweitzer received an American flag, hand-delivered from a concerned friend in Germany.
Schweitzer and Frank Dahlenburg of Neanderthal, Germany, met over the Internet five years ago via a chat room for people interested in Native Americans.
Noticing the backwards sentence order of Dahlenburg's chat room messages, Schweitzer correctly guessed that the writer was German.
"I know a little German and he knows a little English. We started chatting and wrote letters and hit it off," Schweitzer related.
When Dahlenburg said he would like to come visit Madras, Schweitzer and his wife Dorothy thought it was a great idea, and invited him over in 1997 and they've been good friends ever since.
On Sept. 11, it was around 3 p.m., in Germany and Dalenburg had the TV on at the computer shop where he works when he heard the news that a hijacked airliner had hit the World Trade Center.
"After the first plane hit I was really shocked and had a feeling I needed to call Dan," Dalenburg said, noting that it was even worse to see the second plane hit on live TV.
It was morning in Madras and the call woke Schweitzer and his wife up. Their friend informed them of what was happening and told them to turn on their TV.
They had all been planning for Dalenburg's second visit in September, but American airports were shut down while extra security measures were implemented.
Talking to each other during the wait, Dalenburg asked Schweitzer, who is a veteran, if he and his wife could autograph an American Flag for him to take back to Germany.
"I told him I couldn't (it's against flag protocol) and besides we couldn't even get a flag over here," Schweitzer said, mentioning stores were sold out of American Flags.
Wanting to do something to show his concern for the American people, Dalenburg told them he could bring them a flag from Germany.
"I got it in Berlin in a little shop where you can buy American flags. All the Berlin people were buying American Flags and this was the second to the last one in the shop," Dalenburg said, mentioning that it was an international effort, since the flag's tag said "Made In Taiwan."
He said after Sept. 11, German shops were selling American Flags at cost to people who put them with candles or bouquets of flowers at the gates of the American Embassy, or gave them away to American friends living in Germany.
Schweitzer had heard the same thing from his nephew, who is in the military and stationed in Germany. "He said people stopped them in the streets and shook their hands, left flowers and and were just being wonderful," Schweitzer said.
After purchasing the flag, Dalenburg set it on the shelf under the car's back window, only to find the next morning that his car had been vandalized. Someone had broken the back window and scrawled obscenities on his car, but didn't take the flag.
"Evidently, there are many Jihad sympathizers in Europe and Germany is working pretty hard to hunt them down," Schweitzer said.
"It was very hard during the first days (after the World Trade Center attack) for me to look on an Arabian face and not see terrorist, even though I try not to," Dalenburg admitted.
Schweitzer agreed that people shouldn't characterize all Muslims as being terrorists.
"I have friends that are Islamic and I have read the Koran. It's a peaceful religion that doesn't believe in harming women, children, animals and green growing things," he said.
In Germany, Dalenburg directs a computer school, does computer repairs at a shop, and is working on a voice recognition program for handicapped people. Interested in American Indians, he has "adopted" a Navaho elder to correspond with and help some financially.
Besides visiting here, he has spent a week on a Navaho reservation visiting with the woman he calls "grandma."
"I'm not sure if I've adopted them or they adopted me, because when I left, grandma told me I'm a member of the tribe now," Dalenburg related.
In Madras, his friend Schweitzer is a string, keyboard, and brass musician and songwriter, who previously worked 10 years on a San Francisco ambulance crew, was an electrical and mechanical design drafter, and taught martial arts before moving here seven years ago.
He has played music in Reno, Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, and in Central Oregon for the band "Frost," as well as at Sweetwaters and the Kah-Nee-Ta dining room.
When Dalenburg boarded an airliner to come to the U.S., he said he was not afraid to fly, but thought it was odd that his bags were checked more thoroughly in Germany than they were once he arrived in Chicago and transferred flights.
After arriving, he presented the Taiwanese-made, German-bought American flag to Schweitzer, and it now waves from a pole on his friend's house in Madras.
And flags aren't the only thing available in Germany, he noted.
"People still remember when John F. Kennedy came to Berlin and said `Ich bin ein Berliner.' Now in Berlin they are wearing T-shirts that say `Ich bin ein Americaner.'"