Friday, June 06, 2008

D-Day, 1944

Did you see anything noted about it anywhere yet? Yahoo's main page? Nope. Standard news feeds? Nope.

Once, on this day, men made history. One man I know well. He cared for my mother through many years and carried her through her cancer diagnosis, treatment, and ultimate passing. And now, he has another battle. He made it through the earlier one, full of youth and strength. This one he seems to be managing just as well.

This photo is of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. He served in the First, also. He has never spoken of his duty other than at Nuremberg. He casually mentions sharing vodka at the border with some Russian soldiers. Speaks of tanks in the hinterlands of Germany. But that is all.
And now he sits in hospital after surgery for stomach cancer. And in his usual way, not much is said. Truths downplayed. Facts altered to fit the audience and what he'd like them to know. Because a man simply doesn't burden others with his problems. He handles them and moves on to the next objective.
But I cannot help but wonder what he remembers on this day. If his mind wanders back to the cold waters and bloody sands, to the frozen woods and feet, or the clanking of jail cell doors and hushed terror of foreign courts. I hope that someday we can get him to speak of it all, in detail, so that it can be remembered. At least by a few...because - already - it is all being forgotten and left behind as though it was ancient fossils...rather than the lives of men yet living.
One this date over 850,000 men swore to do what they could. As Reagan's speech put it, "We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free."

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