Monday, June 06, 2005

The Longest Day

Almost forgot about this, but 61 years ago today, the Allied forces stormed Normandy, Omaha, and the other beaches in South France, the crucial first strike in a ten-month campaign that would bring an end to some of the most horrific atrocities of the Twentieth Century. The men on the beaches didn't know that at the time, of course; they were soliders, mostly unaware of the import of their actions, many too young to fully grasp it if they had been, and all of them scared. Thousands of them would die on those beaches, or yards away from them. The survivors would go on, liberating Europe one mile at a time. None of them knew they were hereos, the "Greatest Generation" the world had ever seen to that point. Their only thoughts were of country, loved ones, and the men next to them. Their only courage was the pounding blood in their veins and the tang of adrenaline in the back of their mouths. Their only weapons, besides their field-issue equipment, the personal ideals and realities they wanted to protect.

It was enough.

My thanks to all those men, the ones who died, the ones who lived on until their deaths, days or decades later, and the few still alive who remember, as I never can, and hope I never shall, the booming of the guns, the blood-red sand, and the thin moments where they glimpsed, through the smoke and bullets, the world of the dead.

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