The Flag With Fifty-Six Stars by Susan Goldman Rubin

Today is Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day) and so I’m thinking of the tremendous heroism and sacrifice of the members of the military — now and in the past.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields

Having grown up in Canada where people put poppies on their coats today, and where there is a minute of silence at 11:11 a.m., I wanted to recommend a book about soldiers — preferably one that incorporates In Flanders Fields, the haunting poem we were forced to memorize as children. Sadly, while there is such a book — In Flanders Fields by Linda Granfield — I have to admit that I haven’t read it and so it is difficult to recommend it (though if you try it out, let me know what you think).

However, this week also marks Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, a night that some point to as the first major act of the Nazi government against the Jews in Germany. So in memory of both of these events, I wanted to recommend a really special, albeit it painful, book.

The Flag With the Fifty-Six Stars

The Flag With the Fifty-Six Stars

The Flag With Fifty-Six Stars by Susan Goldman Rubin is a haunting portrayal of the last days of WW2 when Jewish prisoners in the Mathausen concentration camp have heard that the American army is on their way to liberate them. Despite the fact that the prisoners are sick, having eaten virtually nothing for years and filthy from the squalor they’ve been forced to live in, they decide that they want to give a gift to these American soldiers who are coming to help them. And so, scrimping and saving and looking for scraps, they heroically find enough supplies to create an American flag to greet their saviors. However, while they get the requisite number of stripes right, they wind up creating a flag with fifty-six stars. It’s the true story of the creation of the flag and the incredible courage of the prisoners and the soldiers that Susan Goldman Rubin retells in this fascinating book.

It’s not a story for the faint of heart, but an important story nonetheless as we remember not only the Jews and other nations that were killed in the Holocaust, but also the brave troops that fought, and died, to liberate them.

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