8/16/2006 - Hooray for Harry Bingham
It seems that Harry Bingham is getting a stamp. Who? I asked much the same question. Pater provides some answers:
The son of archaeologist of Indiana quality, Harry entered the US diplomatic service and found himself in France in 1939. Ambivalent about the upcoming war and uneasy to appear to be taking sides, President Roosevelt's Administration ordered its representatives in France not to grant visas to Jews.
Bingham refused to comply.
During his tenure of rebellion, he granted visas to such notables as Marc Chagall, Max Ernst and the family of Thomas Mann. He also sheltered Jews and forged a few identities for those in need. Washington, eventually losing patience, sent him to Argentina, where he took it upon himself to track the movement of Nazi war criminals.
He died penniless and his contribution to humanity might have been forgotten but for his son, who found some relevant letters among his belongings after he died. He has since been honored by the UN, the State of Israel and finally, the U.S.
I have an uncle who smuggled contraband to the (Jewish) freedom fighters during Israel's war of independence. I'm proud of what he did and I'm proud to be part of movement to honor Bingham's memory. They seem a kindred pair in my eyes and I hope their memories feel honored by each other.
14,000 memorial steps today. Cheers,