In Memorial Day, a Tribute From a Syrian American

Mr. Joseph Urbauer is one of my few remaining WWII patients. He fought in WWII in the 14th Air Force in the pacific. 14 Air Force was established in 1943 and deployed by the United States to the Pacific Theater. His unit engaged in operations primarily in China from 1943-1945. He lost many comrades during the war and in the years that followed. Mr. Urbauer is turning 90 on July of this year and he is planning to celebrate his birthday in a special trip with his beloved wife.

Every few months Mr. Urbauer shows up with his wife to his appointments wearing his WWII Ball Cap. He has never missed his appointments. He is never late. He is always smiling. He defers to his wife for major issues. He tells me jokingly: "she knows more than I do". She only speaks when he looks at her asking for her help. They have been married for 65 years.

He told me amazing and hair-raising stories about the hardship he endured during the war. He is sharp, respective and proud of his service. He is among my best patients as he follows medical advice and treatment plans. He is not a complainer. No matter how severe his symptoms, he just states them with a casual and pleasant way.

I have few veterans from the WW II and they are the best patients to have. There is different vibe about them. They are all in peace with themselves and with others. They are patient and reflective. May be because the war they fought was a just war. They fought evil. They sacrificed, persevered and won the war the hard way. They fought for the right reasons.

Knowing that I was originally from Syria and at the end of each medical visit, Mr. Urbauer, asks me in his caring and gentle voice about my family back home. "How are your folks? I hope that they are safe. I saw terrible things about Syria on the news" he said "I feel sorry to what happened to your homeland but stay safe Doctor". He told me that the devastated cities in Syria like Aleppo and Homs were like the bombarded cities in Europe during the WWII. He wishes that the U.S. would have intervened, the same way it intervened in WWII, to end the war and protect the Syrian children.

Mr. Urbauer told me that he lived the war. "War is terrible and painful" he said "and people including our politicians don't understand it". I asked him what would he have done if he is in President Obama's shoes and faced with the crisis in Syria, where more than 250,000 people killed, 11 million displaced and chemical weapons used against helpless populations. "I would have done more to end the atrocities in Syria. What is happening in Syria is horrific and we need to stop it. History will not be kind to us if we don't help them".

In the Memorial Day I wanted to tell Mr. Urbauer and all veterans who fought to end atrocities, prevailed over evil and protected our homeland "On behalf of the Syrian and Muslim American community, thank you for your service to our country and to humanity. We owe you so much gratitude for your selfless sacrifice."

In his last visit to the clinic, Mr. Urbauer asked me whether it is medically advisable for him to take a cruise trip to celebrate his birthday. "Of course. Enjoy the cruise and bring many pictures" I said "Happy 90th birthday in advance Mr. Urbauer".