On a bevy of topics, Gene Simmons is an outspoken guy.
One thing the rocker’s never shied away from is promoting the greatness of America.
While speaking at the Pentagon recently, Gene told of childhood memories with his mother, who passed away in December at the age of 93.
His mom was intensely loved:
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I lost my Mother. My mentor. My moral compass. And I am heartbroken. 😞 My Mother, Flora Klein passed away at 93 years of age. No illness. No pain. She simply quietly, went to sleep. My Mother will always be in my thoughts and in my heart. Today. And Forever. And I would urge all of you, to run over, put your arms around your mother, kiss her and tell her how much you love her. Do this every day!
Rest in peace my dear Flora. The best grandma and mother in law I could ask for. You were loved and you will be missed
Rest in Peace Flora pic.twitter.com/Exhj9JUQIQ
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) December 6, 2018
And she felt intensely lucky — to be in the United States. She instilled that attitude in her son.
They both had good reason to feel fortunate: At 14 years old, Flora Klein had been taken to a Nazi concentration camp.
Gene told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2018:
“My 92-year-old mother, Flora Klein, is my hero. She was sent to a Nazi concentration camp at the age of 14 and survived, but all the members of her family were wiped out – she saw her mother walk into a gas chamber. Despite the tragedy, she is a positive person who sees the goodness in people’s hearts. I wouldn’t be that forgiving if I had lived her life.”
Thankfully, she made it to Israel. And then to the U.S.
Gene recounted to those at the Pentagon:
“I was born in Israel. … And I’m a proud son of a concentration camp survivor of Nazi Germany. … If Americans could see and hear my mother…talk about America, they would understand. … When we first came to America, my mother let me stay up and watch TV with her. And I couldn’t speak English very well. And my mother could barely get by. She worked 6 days a week, and at night, we’d watch the news and whatever.”
To the Herald, the KISS founder explained what his mother’s early life in New York was like:
“I was an only child. My father [Feri Witz] abandoned us when I was six. Mom had relatives living in America and so we relocated there for a better life when I was eight.
“When we arrived in America, neither of us could speak a word of English. My mother worked in a factory that was like a sweatshop — six days a week, no lunch breaks and there was no minimum wage. She was a button and buttonhole worker, handling 1000 coats a day. She made half a penny for every button sewed.”
At the Pentagon, Gene continued:
“[B]y 12:00, the three or four TV stations would go off the air. … And people, presumably, would go to sleep. Before then, we saw a jet flying through the sky on TV. … And a man in a very deep voice was saying something — I couldn’t understand it. And the jet then turned skyward and flew, seemingly, into the heavens through the clouds. And I remember what the man said: ‘And saw the face of God.’ And then…the flag was full-screen, billowing. And I heard, you know, the National Anthem. And I didn’t know what it was and what was going on. … And every time my mother saw the flag, she’d start crying.”
Next came an incredibly powerful idea:
“As an 8-year-old boy, I didn’t understand why. But from my mother’s point of view, we were finally safe.”
Gene went on to remind us what this country is:
“I may have been born in the country that people throughout history have referred to as the Promised Land. But — take my word for it — America is the Promised Land.”
The message was delivered through held-back tears. He closed with this:
“For everybody…and don’t be ashamed — don’t hesitate — we need to teach young people to be comfortable with saying ‘God bless America.'”
Over the last few years, we’ve been told “America was never great.” People shouting those words could learn something important from a 69-year-old musician who may never have been born, and who most certainly wasn’t likely to have a voice the world would hear. A voice, courtesy of the greatest nation in history.
Enjoy the moving video.
This is what we need more of, from those called celebrities. Like this, too, just recently.
People in positions of visibility, it seems to me, can do good things for the nation — if they’ll only find humility and gratitude. Thank you to Gene for a story — and a message — we’d all do well to remember. One that isn’t uniquely his, but is uniquely American.
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