I’m a day late on this… but it’s never too late to honor those to whom we owe so much.
I found this piece by Geoffrey Notkin I think is worthy of your time:
My parents took me to visit the Normandy beaches while I was still a child, when only about 25 years had passed since the invasion itself. The beaches of Normandy were, at that time, still littered with monstrous sections of the Mulberry artificial harbors. We found landing craft buried in the sand and a ghostly German 88mm artillery cannon hidden in the woods.
Each year France hosts a D-Day anniversary, and veterans return to those cool, windy beaches where the outcome of World War Ii was irrevocably determined, and each year there are fewer of them. The average age of D-Day veterans is today about 85; the same age as my father. Although he didn’t land on D-Day, he did disembark on the Normandy beaches soon after, and saw heavy action in France, Belgium (during the brutal Battle of the Bulge), and was unofficially one of the very first Americans into Germany–during a scouting mission his jeep inadvertently came up against the Siegfried Line, at which time my father received a piece of Nazi shrapnel in his foot and missed the rest of the war. He told me that he’d wanted to see it all the way through to the end, make it to Berlin and do as much damage as he could. My father is a contemplative and peaceful man, so this revelation surprised me, but then when I reflect that he lost family members in the Nazi death camps it’s no longer quite so surprising.
My father, and millions like him, made sacrifices and endured hardships that we can barely imagine. Because of those sacrifices my generation has been able to enjoy the privileges of blogging, frolicking on Twitter, making television shows, and indulging in other modern pastimes in comparative freedom (although those freedoms continue to erode in a slow and frighteningly Orwellian manner).
There was no doubt in the mind of my father, and his many comrades-in-arms. that the Nazi monster had to be destroyed completely and utterly. In our modern world of smart bombs, biological weapons, September 11, plastic explosives, and religion-crazed terrorists, the battle lines are no longer so clearly drawn. We can only hope that world leaders who determine our path today show a fraction of the resolve, clarity, and brilliance that Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower displayed on the night of June 5th, 1944 when he ordered the invasion to commence.
We can only hope indeed.
Crossposted at Brutally Honest.