Today is the seventieth anniversary of D-Day, the day the Allied Forces landed in Normandy. I've long been fascinated by this time in history. Maybe it was my father's stories of his Army service or perhaps it was seeing the movie, "The Longest Day" in 1962.
I remember my father talking often about being in the Army and being in Europe during the war. But except for one set of photos of Luxembourg -- one of them is in the Upper Left in the photograph above -- there are few other physical reminders of his service. I have six medals and before last night I'd never looked at them very carefully. The one on the right is for active service in Europe, North Africa or the Middle East. I learned in my research that the small star in the ribbon and in the bar denotes service in a battle.
My memory is that my father fought both at D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. But I don't remember him discussing the specifics and sadly, I don't remember asking a lot of questions.
One of the places I most wanted to see were the beaches at Normandy and I was fortunate to be able to travel to France in 1985 to make this pilgrimage. I am still in awe of the courage it took to land on a beach with enemy fire all around, and I am especially in awe of the Rangers who scaled Pointe du hoc to disable the German guns. As the years have gone by I grow more in awe each year.
This is the top of Pointe du Hoc. The German guns were here, and it was critical that they were dismantled.
A United States Military cemetery in Normandy
I made no notes on the backs of these photographs in 1985 and I am not sure who is buried in these graves. Their stories, like my father's stories, may now be lost. My father died three years before I went to Normandy and when I returned I didn't ask my mother what she might have remembered my father discussing about his war service. What is remembered is the bravery, the courage and the steadfastness that was shown on June 6, 1944.
My father was one of the lucky ones. He came home from Europe, met my mother and started a family. But at the end of his days he was still proud to have been PFC, US Army, 1941-1945.
With Grateful Remembrance for those who gave so much on
June 6, 1944.