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  • I was at a bar in Brugge one night, when I learned two interesting lessons.

    The first was that for every beer in Belgium, there is a special type of glass that you are supposed to drink it from. The glass is perfectly shaped to give the beer just the right amount of head, and to compliment the flavors and accents of that beer (at least that's how I understand it).

    The second lesson was a little more jarring than that. My friend and I were out late, and the bar was very small, seemingly populated mostly by locals. I don't remember how the conversation started, but an old Belgium man seated next to us start asking us questions - where were we from? what did we do? why were we here? He was very friendly, and we chatted for a while.

    At some point, the question of religion came up. My friend and I are both quite visibly Jewish, with the requisite curly hair and oversized noses. I believe we must have mentioned that to this man, who became visibly shaken.

    He started mumbling something, and leaned in very close to us.

    Before he could speak, he was already crying.

    He told us that as a young boy, he had been here when the Nazis came. Before they came, his family and friends struggled to find enough food, and the economy was very poor. Once they came, nobody wanted for food or work.

    He told us that when they left, he and his whole family cried. "We cried when they left."

    By now, the tears were streaming down his face. He started apologizing. Over and over again, he told us "I'm so sorry", "we didn't know", "we couldn't believe what they did".

    I'll never forget how his voice shook as he kept telling us, "I'm so sorry we cried."
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