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Gene Simmons, bassist and co-lead singer for the rock band KISS, made news when he visited the Pentagon on Thursday as part of an initiative to connect the American public to the United States military.
But it was his emotional remarks about what America meant to him and his late mother that were remarkable.
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“I’m a proud son of a concentration camp survivor of Nazi Germany. My mother was 14 when she was in the camps. I’m measuring my words because I’m about to break up again –,” he said, striking the podium.
“My mother just passed at 93. But if Americans could see and hear my mother talk about America, they would understand,” he said.
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He shared what it was like when he first came to America as a child from Israel, not speaking a lot of English. He said his mother worked six days a week, and in the evenings, they would watch the news together.
By midnight, the three or four TV stations at that time would go off the air. But before then, they would watch a jet fly through the sky and melt into an image of the American flag. The national anthem would play, he said.
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“And every time my mother saw the flag, she’d start crying,” he said. “As an eight-year-old boy, I didn’t understand why, but from my mother’s point of view, we were finally safe,” he said, choking up.
“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, for everybody. And don’t be ashamed, don’t hesitate.
“We need to teach young people to be comfortable with...
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