Wednesday, September 10, 2014

THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY!

In the past I have mentioned that it is sometimes difficult to submit columns to a weekly newspaper and be time-appropriate with the subject matter every week. So many times when I sit down to peck out an article for the paper I forget to look at a calendar so I end up missing some important date in history or a local event or something.
            Case in point: the June 6th edition of The Citizen where I’m yammering on about priorities and everything and it just happens to be the 70th Anniversary of D-Day! Are you kidding me? Where the heck were my priorities? One of the most famous days in the history of Canada and the world and I let it slip by? Tsk, tsk, tsk.
            From Wikipedia: “The Normandy Landings, codenamed Operation Neptune, were the landing operations on 6 June 1944 (termed D-Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the invasion of German-occupied Western Europe, led to the restoration of the French Republic and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.”
            As time marches on and the survivors become fewer and fewer and the memories of the event grow dimmer we need a reminder of just how important that day in history is. Our country grew up that day. A lot of sacrifice was required for that to happen and we need to remember that.
            In a world where women are kidnapped for receiving an education and citizens are persecuted for sharing their thoughts and violence and oppression are standard operating procedures we need to know what we have in this country. Many of us do…so many more don’t.
             I had the great fortune of being able to talk to a veteran who had been wounded storming the beach that day. Many of the former soldiers who saw the kind of action that he had didn’t often talk about their war years but so many years removed from the carnage I think he was finally happy to share his experiences.
            As detailed as his tales were I cannot for the life of me put myself in his place at that time. It is impossible. I’ve seen my share of war movies and documentaries but there can be no substitute for the real thing.
            He told me he lay in an army hospital tent for days as shells flew over and around him and he said he wondered when the next whistling bomb would explode in his tent. Can you imagine? He was eventually transferred to a hospital in London where he recovered and then went back into action instead of heading home, which had been an option.
I asked him why he went back into combat instead of going home and he nonchalantly stated, “Well, that’s just what you did. You couldn’t let the boys down” and, he says, “I’m one of the lucky ones. I did come home.”
It’s easy to become complacent. It’s easy to think that living in this country is a right not a privilege. Every now and then we need a reset. It is becoming harder and harder to sit down and share these kinds of experiences with World War II veterans but read a book, watch a documentary or talk to one of today’s soldiers who’ve seen some action and maybe your perspective will change. Maybe, even for just a little while, you will appreciate the country that you live in today and remember the ultimate sacrifices that have been made on your behalf.
“The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on Earth.”- General Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863).



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