JFS’ Seymour Nussenbaum Reflects on Congressional Gold Medal

Honoring the past and its impact on the future

This month, we caught up with Seymour Nussenbaum (98), a JFS Kosher Meals on Wheels recipient and World War II Veteran, who spoke to us about a recent bill signed into law by President Biden. The bill will honor two top-secret World War II military units known collectively as the “Ghost Army.” Almost 75 years after his service, Seymour and other surviving members of the Ghost Army will receive a Congressional Gold Medal for their role in conducting deceptive operations in Europe.

There was a time in Seymour’s life when he would recount his military experience in a simple manner, “Anyone who would ask me what I did, I would say, I blew up tanks.” As a member of the Ghost Army, Seymour participated in classified assignments carrying out creative yet dangerous missions to deceive German troops and their operatives. Seymour worked on reprinting hand-made military station badges, moving decoy wooden soldiers, and painting and moving inflatable rubber tanks, which he describes were “like the balloons you see in the Macy’s Day Parade.” As part of an amazing legacy of war veterans whose artistic talents and courage helped save an estimated 40,000 lives, he still cannot grasp the “the immensity of what we did.” His humility and patriotism remain strong, though he notes he and other Jewish soldiers experienced anti-Semitism and were vigilant of their surroundings while abroad. Though there was a risk to be exposed as a Jewish American soldier, he shared one instance when he was proud to come together with other Jewish soldiers to celebrate Rosh Hashanah in a temple while in France. He was moved by the spirit of faith and amount of soldiers that came to worship despite the war’s threat.
Over the past three decades, Seymour continues to share his story and supports the initiatives of the Ghost Army Legacy Project. Honored and excited on hearing the news about the Congressional Gold Medal, he notes “it was a long journey for the Ghost Army Legacy Project and those who help support this legislation.” These days, Seymour enjoys collecting stamps, writing, serving on the Board of the International Judaic Stamp Club and spending time with his family. When asked how his life’s philosophy has changed since his experience in the war, Seymour states, “I didn’t philosophize my life when I was young. I did what I had to do. Served as best as I could. Now…this world is going to take a lot of repair. Individuals think we live in a world built for them, but you are here, to build a world…for all to come together.”
Spending time with Seymour was a lesson on how honoring our past helps us build our future, together.
To support the Kosher Meals on Wheels (KMOW) who provide weekly meals to Seymour and other seniors from Middlesex county, call us at 732-777-1940 for volunteer opportunities or donate online.
2/2/2022 – President Biden Signs Bill
An inflatable tank carried by members of the Ghost Army (Photo source: the National Archives)
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