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Friday, June 6, 2014

A Day Unlike Any Other

To some, this day in June is much like any other. That day on the beaches of Normandy was long ago and far away, and the stain long since washed from the sand. The coming summer, the end of school, even National Doughnut Day all hold more importance, more excitement, more pending joy. To some, D-Day means almost nothing. Just another date, another moment in the vast interwoven pattern of bloodshed for the capitalists. Another string in the tapestry that lay across the terrifying world we will leave behind.

For some, for those who remember, D-Day was a big deal. While it's importance to history can be debated, and it's effect as a part of Operation Overlord can be shredded and examined, it can't be pushed aside. No matter how many historians say that Stalin was already on his way to defeating the German War machine, there will always be those who say that none of that matters. There will be those who say that D-Day was important.

Because they were there.
It won't be long now. Sooner than any of us would like to admit, time will march past us. Those that leapt into the ocean, crawled up that beach and fought for something they believed in, in spite of their fears, will soon be gone forever. The last of them will be gone. Their efforts, their blood, their brothers... all will be washed away. Sanitized and swept into the dustbins of history. Sure, there will be museums. There will be memorials. But, that's not who they were.

They were there. They believed that what they were doing was right. It was horrible and dangerous and terrible and ridiculous... but it was the right thing to do.

There will be those who scoff at the patriotism of World War II and America's involvement. To be sure, there is room in that debate for many views. And, that debate will only grow meaner and more coarse as time moves on. The story is sure to change. The gilded glory of the American G.I. could easily become the tarnished reality that faces us when we discuss more recent conflicts.

When the last of them has passed through the final gate, the talking heads will reign. The pundits and politicians will wrap themselves in flags and bunting and take up sides. It will be safe, then. There will be no one to deny them their positions.

But today, while some of those who were there in Normandy still live and breathe among us, we can see a little clearer. Not the whitewashed image of a hero. Not the tarnished silhouette of a killer. Just the sight of a soldier. A green kid from the sticks who was scared shitless and went anyway.

For myself. For my family. I say... thanks.