I confess that I have never read Ambassador John Dolibois' Patterns of Circles, however over the years I attended as many of the presentations he made on campus as I could, and have come to believe that another way of describing the underlying point of the title is that there are unexpected coincidences that connect apparently disparate events. This happened to me with this past week's MUDEC Méinden.
The lead story was about the previous weekend's Memorial Day commemoration, and its link to all the significant milestones that we who fortuitously found ourselves at the MUDEC this past academic year were to witness, beginning with the September 9th commemoration in Pétange of the 75th anniversary of the first US troops entering the Grand Duchy, the celebration / recreation of the November 1944 Thanksgiving outside of Clervaux, the Battle of the Bulge, and ending (online) with the Memorial Day commemoration at the Luxembourg American Cemetery in Hamm. The short piece by Andy Adams gave credit to Fall 2019 MUDEC student and intern at the US Embassy, Alec Hoelker, who provided a link to a story about the first US soldier to die in Luxembourg's liberation, 2nd Lt. Hyman Josefson. A number of us from the MUDEC attended the commemoration in Pétange that day, one attended by the Grand Duke Henri as well as US Ambassador J. Randolph Evans. What I did not know, what had not been mentioned in the speeches, was that Josefson was a Cornell Alumnus, and that was where the link lead, to the Cornell Chronicle's story by his great-nice, Dr. Deborah Josefson, also a Cornell Alumna.
As a Cornell alumnus myself (M. Arch., 1974), it gave me great pride to find that connection, that coincidence that made me feel closer to Luxembourg. I immediately sent an email to the contact person at Cornell ("Dear Ms Valli, I am writing to provide you with some information on the commemoration that took place last 9 September, having read his great-niece Dr. Deborah Josefson’s description just posted by the Cornell Chronicle. While I know the story, I did not know the Cornell connection, so now this is even more meaningful to me. I happen to attend as I taught this past academic year at my university’s European Center, located in Differdange [just southeast of Pétange]. I am attaching some images from that event. Please pass them if you may to Dr. Josefson. I have some short videos but they are too large to send by email."). I did not expect more than a courtesy response.
Not only did Ms Valli respond, but my email and attachments were sent on to Dr. Josefson. She immediately wrote to me: "The staff at the Cornell Chronicle forwarded me your email regarding the Luxembourg liberation ceremonies. Thank you for sending your memories and photos along. Had I known you were there, we could have met" and "I am glad that this ceremony has remained meaningful to the people of Luxembourg and that my Great Uncle, though he lost his life, can continue to represent the sacrifice of the many who've died anonymously and have no memorial to them."
So, there you have it, what John Dolibois called "Patterns of Circles" and what I see as unexpected coincidences of apparently disparate events. I am glad that Alec sent Andy the information, that Andy included it in last week's MUDEC Méinden, and that I reacted to the story and the links as I did. We never know how these may be somehow significant, even in a small way, in how we view our lives and our world. This connection will forever be significant to me.
Professor of Architecture