As a funeral director, I have seen quite a few numbers on arms and was moved by Adam Pitluk’s column about his Grandma Sally (“Editor’s Note,” May 15). I have also buried veterans who served as guards and legal counsel at Nürnberg. The families of all of them had similar stories to tell regarding how their loved one dodged answering questions about the Holocaust. One thing they had in common was the part that they wouldn’t forget, and that it prompted the family members to search for answers. My barber for 39 years was a guard at Nürnberg during the trials. He never mentioned his assignment, or the fact that he had to cut the hair of the Nazi prisoners, until a year before he died. Even then, all he said was that he wondered if a fellow GI was still alive or if I had buried him. When I asked him why he was asking, he just told me that they were the last two from his unit and he didn’t want anyone to forget the evidence that they were forced to see during the trial. When he died, his children had no idea he had been a guard during the trials. They all told me how their dad was always able to smile, no matter how rough it was to raise them.
I still can see the look of horror in his eyes followed by a gasp when I asked him about his assignment. Your grandma and the other survivors I have met are true heroes to look to for guidance. I doubt that I could be man enough to survive what they went through and still be able to smile afterward.
Editor Adam Pitluk responds: What an impressive note. I’m fascinated with your perspective. You should write a book: I’d certainly read it.
We enjoy hearing what you think about the magazine — so much so that if your letter to the editor is published in a 2011 issue, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win 100,000 AAdvantage? miles. Want a chance at the miles? Simply ?e-mail your thoughts to us at ?firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wanted to thank Adam Pitluk for the amazing piece (“Editor’s Note,” May 15) I read this morning while flying from Washington, D.C., to Dallas/Fort Worth and again from Dallas to San Antonio. Although there are obviously differences in the life of Grandma Sally versus that of my mom, I saw some similarities that struck a chord. (My mom worked in one business for most of her life before she passed away 11-plus years ago, and family was so crucial to her well-being.) You created such a visual picture and appreciation of Sally that made me want to read the piece over and over. I kept the magazine today! It is one of those instances when the hair stands up on your arms because it touches you in a way that you can sincerely relate to what you’re reading.
Thanks again for putting light into the day when it was rainy and overcast in D.C.
A.P. responds: Your note really means a lot to me. After I wrote this editorial, I second-guessed running it because it’s so personal. But knowing that you can relate to it gives me hope that other people will glean the same message — that family matters, and that love triumphs over adversity, both in the workplace and in life.
For all the business traveling I do, I rarely bring a book or magazine onboard. Why? Have you ever heard the old saying that the bigger the purse, the more you carry? Well, my travel purse is more like a small suitcase that’s stuffed to overflowing. As I shove it under the seat with my foot, glancing at the flight attendants to see if they’re looking, I say things under my breath like “I’ve got to clean out this purse.” There is no room for one more thing like a novel, a newspaper or a magazine. So I rely on your wonderful American Way magazine to entertain and help me relax as I travel at 500–600 mph through the skies to my next destination. I want to commend you for selecting interesting and varied topics that always keep me engaged and comfortable, from the beginning of the trip to the end. Good job!
A.P. responds: You know, Peggy, I’m still awed by the idea of air travel. A comedian once did a bit — I think it was on Conan —about how he doesn’t understand how people can complain about things like a flight being a few minutes late and the seat not going back far enough. Because when you’re flying, you are essentially sitting in a chair — in the sky — going 500 mph. The only words coming out of your mouth should be: “Wow! This is awesome!” I’m so pleased to hear that American Way gives you a double-wow sensation. Thanks for your support.
I really enjoyed reading the article on Steve Zahn (“Steve Zahn Is,” May 1) returning from a fantastic trip to Venezuela. I have seen Steve Zahn in so many movies, and it was good to learn more about this talented actor. It is great that Treme is giving New Orleans a lot of needed attention as well as an influx of revenue from the series. I attended Loyola University in New Orleans, and, having witnessed firsthand how Katrina devastated the Big Easy, it warms my heart to see all the famous bars and streets come alive again on the Treme series. Seeing Pat O’Brien’s, Bourbon Street, and the Snake and Jakes bar always brings a smile to my face. Keep up the great work in writing truly unique and interesting articles.
A.P. responds: I agree completely. Treme is an entertaining show, yes, but it’s also a very important show for the historical record. And Steve Zahn really nailed his character.
I’ve held Platinum status with AAdvantage for about 20-plus years, racking up more than 3 million miles. I stopped reading American Way well over a decade ago because, at that time, I found it excruciatingly dull, mostly geared toward the businessman. On today’s flight from Santiago, Chile, I picked up a copy of American Way, expecting to put it back within seconds. Leafing through the pages, I was struck by a letter to the editor, “A Taste of Home” (“Air Mail,” June 1), thinking this guy must really get a life if he lives in Rome and subscribes to American Way. But it inspired me to leaf through a few more pages. Wow! What a pleasant surprise! General-interest stories, alluring pictures of actresses, fantastic “Itinerary” section, interesting restaurant reviews, fun interviews with cutting-edge personalities like Marcus Samuelsson … what have I been missing? Adam Pitluk’s response to the “Air Mail” indicates that he became editor three years ago; is that when it all changed? And to think I might even be able to win 100,000 miles just for writing that I like it! Congratulations on a very good, greatly improved magazine.
A.P. responds: Welcome back into our pages, Bartholomew. Great to have you back. While I’d love to take credit for the change, the truth is that the staff deserves all the credit. The winds of change were blowing in the publishing industry. I just followed a star chart, and the team did it all. But thanks for noticing that we’re not the magazine of the past … make sure you check out our June 15 issue online at AA.com/americanway. We had Richmond on the cover for the first time in our 45-year history.
A PERFECT BALANCE
The sentiment that was reflected at the end of the story (“The Bright Side,” June 1) was profound and hit home for me, and I am sure for many others. With the demands and pace of life these days, I believe many of us are striving to be perfect. The perfect mother, father, wife, husband, son, daughter, boss, worker, ballplayer, etc. Having trust, as Kyra reflects, that doing our best is going to be good enough is not easy, but it is necessary to maintain balance and enjoy life. Although I have never watched The Closer and only know of Kyra by what is written in the story, I can see how with this view she can maintain a positive attitude and perspective on life. This would be hard to do if one is always trying to be perfect and failing. It is also not surprising that J. Rentilly is an award-winning journalist. This was well put together.
A.P. responds: When someone as überfamous as Kyra Sedgwick — and someone with such an überfamous husband, to boot — can figure out the work/family balance, there’s hope for us all. I also agree that J. Rentilly did a tremendous job on this one.
WINDOW ON AMERICA
Thank you for the great journalism, especially appreciated with the June 1 pieces on the Beastie Boys (“Rhymin’ & Stealin’ ”) and Kyra Sedgwick (“The Bright Side”).
I became a fan of your magazine when I served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine and discovered how American Way could help me share my American culture with Ukrainians. Friends and relatives managed to send me issues throughout my two years of service in the southeastern city of Mariupol´, which had no access to American publications. American Way was our window on America, a means of exploration and learning for my students, and also a source of pride for me as an American sharing the American way of service in the Peace Corps.
A.P. responds: That’s a tremendous way to introduce non-native English speakers to America. We believe that American Way is indeed a window into our world — a day in the life of America, as it were. And thank you for the work you do with the Peace Corps. The world is a better place with people like you in it, Helen.