Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"I don't want to die before I sing at a baseball game."

When Hermina was 17 and about to finish high school in Czechoslovakia, she and her family were forced to move into a Jewish ghetto. Instead of a prom, she went to a concentration camp, actually four of them, including Auschwitz, where she lost her mom, dad, and three brothers. Somehow she was still alive when Allied forces released the starving inmates in 1945. Once freed, she hitched rides back to her birthplace, and spent a year in a sanitorium regaining her health. That's when a cousin set her up on a blind date with Bernard Hirsch, and they have been husband and wife for 69 years. In 1953 they moved to Southfield, Michigan, started a big family, and became longtime Tigers fans.

Now she's 89 years young, and a few weeks ago she told her grandchhildren, "I don't want to die before I sing at a baseball game." They knew she loved the national anthem, and sang it often, so they contacted the front office, and the Tigers could not say no. On May 21, before the Tigers took on the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park, Hermina's dream came true. Why wasn't she nervous?  "I have nothing to lose. I'm an old woman," she said.  Her granddaughter added, "It's one of her favorite songs, because she's so patriotic, just because of everything she's been through and how she got here." Thousands of fans cheered when Hermina hit the high note, and many wept. Happy Memorial Day.

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