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Let us love one another

The University of Michigan is one of a growing list of major universities in the world where a man can be inspired by kissing the cheek of the president. Mary Sue Coleman is one of a growing list of distinguished women who are serving as president of major universities. Some people seeing kisses on cheeks are prone to start whispering campaigns about infidelity and other crazy ideas, and in my opinion these people can be lumped together into a bunch called lame brains.

I got this idea when my oldest daughter, Karin, graduated from Navy boot camp in Orlando, Fla. before going on in her studies in aerospace medicine. Her commanding officer was a woman. Now when I served in the U.S. Navy during World War II out in the Pacific, the only admiral I personally knew was Chester Nimitz - at that time it wouldn't have been proper to even shake hands with the fleet admiral. It was proper only to salute him. But later when I got to know the Supreme Commander Gen. (Dwight) Eisenhower, I discovered he would shake hands and he was generous in saying 'well done.'

But in the new U.S. Navy now you can kiss an admiral provided you are a man, and the admiral is a lady. And guess what, my daughter's commanding officer was a female admiral, so it was proper for me then to kiss an admiral, I never realized that would be possible during World War II, where about all I knew was being a high-powered specialist in electronics.

Speaking of war, I don't like wars. Wars are crazy. Several years ago on a Sunday I was in the Weirhof, a small village in southern Germany. I attended a church where I knew some of my Mennonite relatives worshipped. In the back of the church on the upper wall were listed names of service personnel who had died in World War II. Of those names, two of the German servicemen were my second cousins. One of them had been killed on the Russian Front on Dec. 22, 1944 - the very day I had entered the U.S. Navy.

Several years after World War II was over I again visited the Weirhof, and the Americans still controlled the area. I went to the Commanding Officer of the U.S. Military and said 'you see over there' and I pointed, 'there is the Weirhof. A lot of my relatives live there. They want freedom for their village. Please give it back.' So what happened? The Americans returned the land and buildings to the Weirhof community in better shape than when they had captured the area and they built a municipal swimming pool for the Germans. After that there was a good spirit of camaraderie. It wasn't like the old Russians who, when they left an area, they knocked down and destroyed everything in sight. One example I might relate: We have a dear friend who lives in a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. She was from Estonia. She came from a beautiful part of Estonia, but when the Russians departed from the area years ago, they destroyed everything in Sigrid's community including the home where she was born and the barn where she worked as a youth. The new Russians I don't think would do that anymore.

One thing we can all do - we can pray for peace in the world! I have friends who are Hindus, I have friends who are Muslim, I have friends who are Chinese, I have friends who are Japanese, I have friends who are Korean. I have friends who have lived under the yoke of Communism. I have friends who have known nothing but freedom. I can honestly say that I have friends in well over 100 countries in the world.

Not all good friends, some are difficult to get along with, but friends. Some lead miserable lives but are still friends. Some are poor, but friends. Some are different colors but friends. Some are uneducated but friends. There is no one who can't be your friend if you try.

Each one of us is born a unique creature, but we are all God's creation I believe. And although some of us are quite different, we can all be like brothers and sisters. Let us forgive one another, and start new lives, and as Jesus taught, let us love one another.

Vince Lowenberg has been a resident of Lake Oswego for 30 years and is a member of the Gideons International.