Remembering 37 Years of Military Marriage: Judy, My Own Lili Marlene


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

One of the most beloved songs of love between a woman and a soldier is the song Lili Marlene. Hans Leip, a school teacher conscripted into the Imperial Army wrote it in 1915 as a three verse poem. It was published in 1937 with two additional verses prior to the Second World War in Germany. It was set to music by Norbert Schultze in 1938 and recorded in German by Lale Anderson in 1939, and in English in 1942.

Lili Marlene German- English Translation

 

Lili Marlene (Semi-literal Translation)

Vor der Kaserne, vor dem grossen Tor
In front of the barracks, at the large entrance gate

Stand eine Laterne, und steht sie noch davor.
Stood a lamplight, and if it’s still standing there,

So woll’n wir uns da wieder seh’n
We want to see each other there again

Bei der Laterne wollen wir steh’n
We want to stand at the lamplight

Wie einst Lili Marleen, Wie einst Lili Marleen.
As before, Lili Marlene, as before, Lili Marlene.

Unsere beide Schatten sah’n wie einer aus
Our two shadows appeared as one

Dass wir so lieb uns hatten, das sah man gleich daraus.
That we were so  much in love, one saw immediately.

Und alle Leute solln es seh’n
And everyone should see it

Wenn wir bei der Laterne steh’n,
When we are standing by the lamplight

Wie einst Lili Marleen, wie einst Lili Marleen
As before, Lili Marlene, as before,  Lili Marlene.

Schon rief der Posten: Sie blasen  Zapfenstreich
The sentry had already called out: They are sounding curfew.

Das kann drei Tage kosten.  Kam’rad, ich komm sogleich.
“It can cost three days.”  “I’m coming momentarily, comrade.”

Da sagten wir auf Wiedersehen,
Then we said goodbye.

Wie gerne wollt ich mit mir dir geh’n,
How much I wanted to go with you,

Mit dir Lili Marleen, mit dir Lili Marleen.
With you, Lili Marlene, with you, Lili Marlene.

Deine Schritte kennt sie, deinen zieren Gang
It [the lamplight] knows your footsteps, your graceful walk

Alle Abend brennt sie, doch mich vergass sie lang.
Every evening it is burning, but it forgot about me long ago.

Und sollte mir ein Leids gescheh’n,
If harm should come to me,

Wer wird bei der Laterne stehen,
Who will stand at the lamplight,

Mit dir Lili Marleen, mir dir Lili Marleen?
With you, Lili Marlene, with you, Lili Marlene?

Aus dem stillen Raume, aus der Erde Grund
From the quiet place, out of the earthly ground

Hebt mich wie im Traume dein verliebter Mund.
I am lifted as in a dream to your loving lips.

Wenn sich die spaeten Nebel drehn,
When the evening mist swirls in

Werd’ ich bei der Laterne steh’n
I will be standing at the lamplight

Wie einst Lili Marleen, wie einst Lili Marleen.
As before, Lili Marlene, as before, Lili Marlene.

The German and later the English version was broadcast by Radio Belgrade, under German control began to broadcast it. It became a sentimental hit among British, Australian, and New Zealanders of the British 8th Army in North Africa and it became the unofficial song of the 8th Army and 6th Armored Division. As American military personnel began arriving in Europe and began fighting in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels was infuriated and order that Radio Belgrade cease playing it, but under pressure from Field Marschall Erwin Rommel, Goebbels backed down. Afterwards, until Belgrade was captured by the Russians Radio Belgrade would play it nightly at their 9:55 sign off. Soldiers from both sides turned in to the song. In 1944 the expatriate German film star and singer Marlene Dietrich, for the OSS, and later in both the English and the original German version.

There is nothing political about the song, it reflects the heartache of separation and the anxiety experienced by those separated by military duties, deployments, and war. There is a certain tenderness and sadness that it reflects that that only those whose spouses or loved ones who go into harms way, that includes military personnel, law enforcement officers, Fire Fighters and EMS workers, and others who go into harms way not knowing what that day might bring. It has become popular in countries around the world, even today, were soldiers go to war and leave their loved ones behind.

 










But among these, military personnel are unique because when we go away, we go away not knowing when or if they would return. Most of us who have gone to war over the last two decades have wondered about this because no matter where we fought there was no front line, the enemy could be anywhere even on supposedly safe bases. Honestly I seldom told Judy exactly what I was doing in combat operations I was always the one unarmed dude accompanying small groups of 8-12 advisors to Iraqi forces in Al Anbar Province equipped with small arms and HUMMV mounted machine guns. Then there were the 75 missions I made as an adviser with a boarding team in the Persian Gulf during the Iraqi Oil Embargo, and the time we almost got into a shooting match with Iranian Revolutionary Guard Naval Gunboats who were harassing our flagship, an Australian special operations support ship with little in the way of defensive armament. It was just a matter of minutes until we launched at them when they broke off their attack and went back into Iranian territorial waters, then there was the week we were in between the Indian and Pakistani fleets as their nations sat on the brink of nuclear war.

For 37 years Judy has been my Lili Marlene, and she still is. Back in the early part of our marriage the Cold War was about to turn hot and we never knew when an alert to go to the Fulda Gap to sacrifice ourselves to support the 11th Armored Cavalry. Our casualties were predicted to be 75-90% in order to buy time for troops from the United States arrive. The wives had a way to figure out if it was a real thing or not, especially if the alert occurred at an odd hour, they looked to see if the cars from Air Force personnel were still parked. But I digress, in those days the tensions between the US and the Soviet Union were very high, and there was one day where due to computer glitch the Soviets nearly launched a nuclear strike thinking that our missiles were already on the way.  Add to that the Red Brigade and Bader-Meinhof terrorist gangs that went around bombing and killing American military personnel, NATO and West German Officials.

 

Of course there were the times on stateside duty in non-deploying active duty units, or National Guard and Reserve units with combat missions should war break out where there were always things that kept us apart, field exercises, duty, Death notifications, meetings and planning sessions, conferences, required schools and so on. I figure over the course of my career where we were married, of over 37 years we have been separated for over 14 years due to a combination of everything above, I am probably underestimating by some because I’m not counting the number of days that I spent on call in hospitals, or was at home studying for another master’s degree, other schools, or taking students to Gettysburg,  I have been away for 17 wedding anniversaries and more holidays and birthdays than I can count.

But Judy is an amazing woman, despite the hardships, frequent moves, my time in seminary and my hospital residency where between those things and duties in the National Guard, my mobilizations and deployments she soldiered on. We have had our share of difficulties, especially since we both suffer from different types of PTSD on top of my TBI and Moral Injury. Thankfully we’ve had our long line of dogs to help us through tough times, and were there for each other to the best of our ability, which sometimes wasn’t very good.

But since the day I laid eyes on her she has been the only woman I have ever loved. She is a friend who will tell me the truth and when needed try to keep me coloring within the lines. That my friends can be difficult as my personality type is a Myers-Briggs INTJ, think Dr. Greg House, (House M.D.) Marcellus Wallace, (Pulp Fiction) Michael and Vito Corleone, (The Godfather series) Professor Moriarty, (Sherlock Holmes) Ellen Ripley, (Alien), Gandalf, (Lord of the Rings), Mr. Burns, (The Simpson’s), Sherlock Holmes, Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs), Bruce Wayne/Batman, Emperor Palpatine and Count Doku (Star Wars trilogy) and Walter White (Breaking Bad). That being said she has to be a saint to love me the way she does and probably feels the same about me.

But Judy is my Lili Marlene and for too many years she has waited for me, and now my military career is coming to an end. My retirement ceremony will be as much as her as about me. She was there when when I marched to the sound of the guns and volunteered for every dangerous mission I could. When I came home from Iraq and melted down, and occasionally still do from my PTSD, TBI, and Moral Injury, my anxiety and depression, nightmare and night terror disorder, which gets pretty violent at times, she stayed with me, and I can now understand a least some of what she suffered and struggled with for years.

She is the best, incredibly creative and talented, able to see what can be made and how to make it better, and so amazingly compassionate and caring for people, but willing to be honest with people when they are being unreasonable. I am incredibly thankful and blessed that she stood by me all these years.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under life, marriage and relationships, Military, Tour in Iraq

2 responses to “Remembering 37 Years of Military Marriage: Judy, My Own Lili Marlene

  1. Cynthia M Carter

    Such a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. You both have a very special dedication to each other. You are blessed, indeed!

    • padresteve

      That she is and that you are as well. You are a true friend to both of us. If you have Dorthy Brogi’s email, send her the link too…

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