In the last few years, Shalom Lamm has spent much time devoted to honoring Jewish-American soldiers who fought and died in WWII. Through Operation Benjamin, Shalom Lamm assisted families with having the markers on the graves of soldiers who fought changed to reflect their heritage.
Through Operation Benjamin, family members of fallen WWII soldiers were able to participate in a ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial that would honor their sacrifice by changing Christian grave markers to the Star of David to reflect their Jewish faith. The Cemetery is a beautiful monument comprised of 152 acres located on a plateau visible from a panoramic view.
The accompanying chapel is a white masonry building complete with sculpture and mosaic located in the middle of the cemetery. Twenty-five mosaic maps are located within the hemicycles and narrate the events of the battles that occurred in the Philippines and New Guinea.
Visit any time of the year, and the scene is picturesque and quiet, one that encourages reflective thought. However, one is easily transported back almost 57 years to the Battle of New Guinea, a battle where many soldiers lost their lives.
The Battle was a concerted effort of the Allied Forces and lasted a year-between January 1943 and January 1944. Described as a nightmare, the hostile terrain was filled a million with natural enemies, including the heat, monsoon rains, the morass of mangroves, and poorly constructed infrastructure.
Then, various diseases such as scrub typhus, dengue fever, and dysentery made the environment hostile. Shortages of supplies in a battle that often left the Allied Forces scrambling created the conditions for completing an impossible mission.
The scenes are similar to the excitement of an army advancing and retreating, artillery firing off and explosions filling the air as soldiers scramble and fight. Eventually, the Allied Forces overwhelmed the Japanese soldiers and won the battle, and the memorial in Manila would be a testament to the courage and sacrifice of the American GI.