Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Headstone Replacement at Manila American Cemetery

Today, I was very privileged to have been invited by Operation Benjamin for the 2023 headstone replacement and memorial ceremony of Private First Class Ralph Greenstein, Private Harvey Mashatt, TEC5 Eugene Shore, Corporal Sam Cordova, and the Star of David headstone among the Unknown Soldiers. These young men were Jewish American soldiers who died during World War II and are buried here in the Philippines at the Manila American Cemetery.

Operation Benjamin is devoted to preserving the memories of American-Jewish soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending the cause of freedom during World War II. Their aim is to locate Jewish personnel at American military cemeteries all over the world who, for various reasons, were buried under markers incorrectly representing their religion and heritage. Their mission is to correct these mistakes and provide, these many decades later, comfort to the families of the fallen. One resource they have are genealogists like myself who help establish the Jewish heritage of these soldiers.

(Top to Bottom) US Amb. Carlson, Israeli Amb. Fluss, and OB CEO Lamm

US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Loss Carlson, Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss, and Operation Benjamin CEO Shalom Lamm, all spoke about the purpose of the event and also mentioned and remembered how President Manuel L. Quezon saved many Jewish people during World War II by allowing them refuge in the Philippines. After the opening prelimaries, all the participants visited each of the burials and the the Latin Crosses which were erected their years ago were replaced with the Star of David. Traditional Jewish prayers were said and it was beautiful to hear the Mourner's Kaddish being recited by the guests.

Today's event was truly a very profound and wonderful experience I will never forget. Thank you, Operation Benjamin, for allowing me to participate in this moving ceremony.

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