D-Day. June 6th, 1944. If you don’t know the history and the importance of what those young men did, and the sacrifices they made, it’s time for you to shut off the computer and the TV and go to the library. Because it wasn’t just that one landing, it was fighting against an increasing desperate enemy all the way to Berlin. It was dying, being maimed, being destroyed psychologically, and when someone fell, the rest of the platoon moved forward. No break, no respite.
A friend of my Dad went in on the 3rd wave and fought all the way to Berlin. When the war in Europe was over, he was sent back to the States. To a camp in the Midwest where veterans of the war with Germany were being merged into new units to train for the invasion of Japan. When the atomic bombs pushed the Japanese High Command to surrender, he got to live.
He wasn’t right. He had seen too much, and he drank to keep the memories at bay. He died before his time. But he was a hero, as much as any man who went and faced that evil so that we could have a chance to work out the future as free people. On D-Day, I remember Dad’s friend, Stan Hershey. I hope to God what we do with the country in our time is worth the price they all paid for us.
There’s a graveyard in northern France where all the dead boys from D-Day are buried. The white crosses reach from one horizon to the other.