Three dates stand out in my 72-year-old head.
1) April 12, 1945
Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. He is the only president to be elected four times.
2) Nov. 22, 1963
3) Sept. 11, 2001
Attack on the World Trade Center.
On April 12, 1945, I was 11 years old and playing down at the polluted Bronx River with Shimmy Aronson. We were both mud-caked and filthy by the time we got home. There was much heaviness and sorrow in our Bronx neighborhood. The beloved Franklin Delano Roosevelt had died. He was, at that time, the only president in my lifetime. That was 62 years ago.
My colleague, Jules Korn D.D.S., was a soldier fighting in Europe on that date. He is an outstanding dentist and is still teaching residents, along with myself, at Jamaica Hospital. Julie joined the U.S. Army at 18 in 1943, won many medals and became a sergeant in his early 20s. He is a true military hero. When I visited him at his Roslyn Heights home, Julie showed me a book called F Company - 347 Infantry Regiment 1942-1945, written by the men of F Company.
Quotes from Jules Korn in the book:
"I was exceptionally fortunate to be one of about 15 from the original company of 200 to survive intact though the ordeal. I rose from private to sergeant by attrition."
The American troops were too busy fighting to be informed of Stateside news. This episode quoted from the book was truly both touching and informative.
"Near the end of the war, we learned from the captured Germans that Roosevelt had died. It was about this time we approached a small town between Saafeld and Bucha. We started receiving small-arm fire from a barn 600 to 800 yards away. When the fire came in I hit the ground, which was a manure pile. I was a little unhappy about the situation. I set up the 60mm mortar to fire at the farm building. The first shell got stuck in the barrel. I removed it. A second shell also did not fire out of the tube. Within minutes, a white flag was shown and they came marching out. They were kids, 13-, 14- and 15-year olds. If the shells had gone off, we would have blown them away. It would have been a difficult thing to see that you actually killed children and to live with that knowledge."
It was ironic to learn of Roosevelt's death from the enemy. Jules came home from the war and went to New York University College of Dentistry. He married Clare (a bright and wonderful woman) and they have four children, five grandchildren and a pool on Glen Cove Road.
Julie practiced dentistry in Whitestone, Queens, for 39 years. He retired, but still teaches at Jamaica Hospital. He also keeps in touch with his Army buddies. War hero, dentist, husband, father, grandfather, he wears all of these labels.
Jules Korn, above all, is a mensch, whom I am proud to know.