Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dinner with Ambassador Beyrle: On My Wishlist

Earlier this month, John Beyrle – pronounced BYE-ur-lee – was sworn in as U.S ambassador to Russia. And oh, would I jump at a dinner invitation from Ambassador Beyrle. And his wife of course. But more about that later.

The real story behind the story, is the ambassador’s personal connection – or rather, his father’s connection – with
Russia. The late Joe Beyrle, or Jumpin’ Joe as he was called, is thought to be the only soldier who served in both the US and Soviet armies during World War II.

As a 21-year-old paratrooper, he was captured just after D-day and imprisoned in Nazi camps. On his third attempt, he escaped successfully and headed east, where he was taken in by Russian forces. By war's end, he had served longer in the Soviet army than he did in the U.S. army.

Of course volumes could be written about Joe Beyrle’s adventures from then to 2004 when he was honored in
Moscow on the 69th anniversary of the war's end. He was the only American in the group of Russian WW-2 veterans honored that day in Red Square and over the years, he has enjoyed near-celebrity status because of his unique experience.

What a rich, personal heritage for Joe’s son, now Ambassador John Beyrle. Thanks to MSNBC, touching interviews with both father and son are at the link above.

Now, back to that dinner invitation. If you'll pardon me just a moment, dear blog readers, and allow me a private word with John, not that we're on a first-name basis or anything. Anyway.

Dear Mr Ambassador: When you and your staff up there in Moscow are putting together guests lists for special events and such there must surely be moments when you're scratching your heads for an expatriate or two to round out the guest list. Perhaps you think, There's got to be someone out there in the hinterlands of Russia who might like to join us.

Well, here I am, hailing from Rostov-on-Don, volunteering for patriotic duty. I would be delighted to join you folks at some special event. Better still, would be the chance to visit with you and your family over cornbread and beans -- or borscht and pelmeni -- some quiet evening. See, I just want to hear some first-hand stories about growing up around the great Jumpin' Joe.

Oh, and by the way, Welcome Back to Russia! Wishing you a successful tour of duty in this magnificent land.

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