What’s in a Name?

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WE HAVE A BABY! His name is Dresden Robert, and as quite a few people have been asking about the name’s origin, I decided to write a post about it. The middle name was a given. A family name in both my husband’s and my families, we couldn’t find something more fitting. Plus, it’s my husband’s middle name as well, and we love the thought of them sharing a name.

Why Dresden? The first reason is because I didn’t want to name him “Harry.” My two favorite literary characters are Harry Potter and Harry Dresden. I thought for a while about naming him Harry or Harrison or Harris, but the thought of kids calling him “Harry Balls” to torment him made my skin crawl. We were out with our friends one night, and after hearing about my Harry debacle, the name Dresden was suggested. Name him after the powerful wizard of Jim Butcher’s series who is witty, stubborn, flawed, a smart ass, and a genuine good guy with some bad-guy tendencies? Yes, please! It also helps that this is not a popular name. Unlike my first choice of “Jackson” after a beloved grandfather, the name of Dresden doesn’t even rank in popular names. There will not be an abundance of Dresdens when he starts school.

Now on to the bigger issue of the name Dresden. It is also the name of a city in Germany. Because my husband’s name is Hans and his family has some German ancestry, I thought this name was appropriate from that angle. There has been some opposition to us naming him after a German city as we tend to have some weird lingering dislike with Germany ever since WWII. However, I like the idea of naming someone we love beyond words after something that others may not like. Were the Germans wrong in WWII? Absolutely. Should the present Germans, most of whom were not alive in WWII, continue to pay for what was done by their ancestors? I don’t think so. Perhaps I’m getting too hippie with this.

I also think there’s an important message in what happened to Dresden during the Second World War. Toward the end of the war, the Americans and the British bombed Dresden killing between 22,000 to 25,000 people. The Allies were told that this city housed a major communication station as well as a major rail transport. Upon further digging, though, this information was found to be false. There was also a huge influx of fleeing refugees that totaled anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 people present at the time of bombing.

Why does this story seem important to me? For one, the loss of life is always significant. No matter what side one is on, life is precious. Even German lives in WWII. Before you start to hate me, let me explain. I am in no way saying that Hitler was right in what he or the Nazis did throughout the war. I believe it’s something we should all remember so as not to make the same mistake again. However, not all Germans were on board with this genocide; in order to protect themselves and their families, many German men and women were forced to do things they did not want to do. It’s the nature of war and a militant dictator. (I’d recommend reading the YA fiction book The Book Thief for more on this point of view and the juxtaposition between doing what it right and loving one’s country.) Because I believe all lives are precious, I believe the bombing of Dresden can teach us an important lesson. Make sure the intelligence is correct. Don’t act hastily especially in something so catastrophic as taking human lives. And maybe most importantly, we are all human. The “good guys” in this, the Allies, actually did a bad thing. They were not without blemish. There is no completely “good” guy; though we can strive to be as good as possible, mistakes will happen. Sometimes really huge mistakes will happen that we may not have intentionally done but that we have to claim. It’s also important to note that everyone fighting in wars and in any debate believe themselves to be the “good” guy. “Good” is subjective and changes with who one may talk to.

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What You Talking About?

This lesson is reflected not only in the bombing of the city of Dresden but also in the character of Harry Dresden. Harry makes mistakes throughout the series, sometimes huge mistakes, yet he owns these and works to make these better. We tend to like him more because he is flawed. We can see ourselves more easily in a flawed hero than a perfect hero. Perfection is something unattainable, yet none of us are free from flaws. They are what make us human and can define who we are. There’s a reason most prefer Batman over Superman.

For Dresden, I hope he can see the beauty in the flaws. I hope he analyzes situations as opposed to acting hastily. I hope he hears both sides of the story. And I hope he lives a life as full of love and adventure as Harry Dresden.

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The Many Faces of Dresden

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