Bernard Darty spent the majority of World War II hiding from Nazi soldiers in his native France, where his parents had fled from the pogroms [the organized efforts to massacre the Jews] in Poland. When the Germans invaded France in 1940, once again they found themselves in danger. On July 16, 1942, French police began rounding up Jews in Paris. Before they were done, 13,000 had been gathered and eventually sent off to Nazi death camps.
Mr. Darty said, “The police came to our apartment at 6 a.m. My parents managed to take me to my aunt’s home. She was married to a French soldier and was protected.
A few hours later, my mother was arrested as she and my brother were trying to get information about my father, who was hiding in a nearby grocery store. A concierge had pointed them out to the police. They ran, but my mother was not fast enough. She was detained and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. She perished there – probably within three weeks.
I was 7, and for the next two years I lived on borrowed time, shielded by other families on the outskirts of Paris. The same was true for my future wife, who was also a child in hiding. If the war had continued much longer, we would not have survived.
I vividly remember the arrival of the hundreds of thousands of American troops who landed in Normandy to liberate us in June 1944. They were our saviors, doling out packets of sweets to half-starved, war-weary children who had almost given up hope for freedom.
The gratitude I feel to these men is beyond words. They freed our country and they saved our lives. Without American troops, my family and I simply would not have existed. I think of that every time I look at our family photos.” 1
Bernard and his brothers own one of Europe’s largest home appliance retailers and they have been very successful. He has also enjoyed having a family and recently being able to retire in Miami Beach.
He would never forget the American soldiers who came to save his life. How much more should we never forget the Savior Who saved us for eternity.
Mr. Darty realizes none of that would’ve ever been possible without the Americans who came to rescue him and so many others 73 years ago, back in 1944. So last week he and his wife gave a gift of $1 million to help wounded American veterans to say, “Thank you!”
Bernard said, “I want to help modern American veterans today. They pursue the tradition of the young men who landed on the shores of Normandy in June 1944 and who I will never forget. In giving this donation, I want to thank Americans with all my heart for coming to rescue us in our hour of need.”
He went on to say, “But I also want to make a public stand in support of America. I hope that my donation can trigger a movement and lead others to take action. My story shows it’s never too late to give back, especially for a cause that’s close to your heart. If it wasn’t too late for this octogenarian, it’s not too late for you.” 2
You may have never thought about the Holocaust in light of the holidays, but Mr. Darty did. And maybe we should, too. You see, you and I are in a similar situation. How do we say “thank you” to JESUS for what He has done for us?
Bernard said he would never forget the American soldiers who came to save his life. How much more should we never forget the Savior Who saved us for eternity.
He said he hoped his generous gift would start a movement that would lead others to action. This CHRISTmas I hope you will join Janis and me and our family, giving the most generous gift you can possibly give in our annual Christmas Love Offering on Sunday, December 24.
As Bernard Darty made very clear …
… it’s never too late to say, “Thank you!”
© 2017. Barry L. Cameron
1 “Holocaust Survivor: I'm Giving $1 Million to Help Wounded American Veterans, to Express My Thanks.” Fox News, FOX News Network, www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/11/25/holocaust-survivor-im-giving-1-million-to-help-wounded-american-veterans-to-express-my-thanks.html.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.