5 thoughts on “Memorial Day”

  1. Thanks for the post. My father went in on Omaha with the First Division. It was his third amphibious invasion, so he quickly realized how bad this was. I always hoped to visit the site with him, but unfortunately we were unable to do so before his health deteriorated to where he could not travel. My family and I did manage to visit, but sadly after he was gone.

    These days, I often think about the contrast between his generation and the current crop of safe space, trigger warning knuckleheads in college today. My father was finishing his first semester in college, a rare thing back then, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The very next Monday, he went downtown to sign up. He actually wanted to be a Marine, but they rejected him because he had red/green colorblindness (because a rifle platoon leader needs perfect color vision), so as Dad said, “I went next door and joined the Army.” Not only was he volunteering to join up, but when first told no he wouldn’t take it for an answer. Today’s college losers would probably wet themselves at the mere thought of serving. The rejection, by the way, actually led to one of the more amusing experiences Dad had during the war.

    The other contrast is the humility my father and his friends showed, unlike today’s wastrels who feel the need to trumpet their slightest non-achievement. Over the course of the war, Dad not only survived three landings, but was wounded twice, awarded the Bronze Star twice and the Silver Star (for his actions on D-Day) By the time I was born, Dad was in the reserves, so the Army to me meant our vacations were centered around wherever he was doing his annual training and that once a month he met us in uniform for lunch at our favorite BBQ place after church on Sunday. It wasn’t until I was in second grade that I knew he fought in World War II. I was in advanced reading so I could check out books from the 4th and 5th grade side of the library and I was reading one on WW2 for kids (the entire war in about 100 pages) and at the dinner table talked about the section on D-Day (because of course I’d now read two or three pages on it, so I’m an expert) and my father stopped me and said, “Yeah, I know, I was there.” Later I got to hear the stories, but usually only after I asked. Neither he nor his friends would shy away from talking about the war, but rarely did they start the conversation that way and they never boasted or talked about how their service made them entitled or superior. To them, they had a duty to do an awful job, they did it and then got on with their lives.

    If he were still with us, I’m sure Dad would have a hearty laugh at the little fools who need safe spaces because speakers they disagree with are on campus. On June 6, 1944, the “safe space” was getting off the beach for the dubious safety of the seawall or the cliff bottom.

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