As my mind spun wildly on the night before the anniversary of D-Day, when I “shoulda” been sleepin’, my thoughts traveled first to recollections of all the wonderful veterans, Elks and those I’ve met through Elks Veteran’s Services, ENF Grants, etc. On June 6, I shared with the educated world the 75th anniversary of D-Day. From teaching history, and as any good American “oughtta” know, D-Day was the largest amphibian assault to reclaim Europe for the free world.
My mind began twisting when I thought about the word “anniversary.” Is this day one we commemorate, celebrate, memorialize or just remember? What about D-Day do we then remember, etc.? My first cinematic introduction to D-Day was “The Longest Day.” All the great movie stars were in the movie, and at the time, it was the longest movie I knew. The scene with the helpless airman whose parachute got caught on the church spire still sticks in my mind. I know you remember the scene. He drops his knife. He survived the ordeal and became an honorary citizen of the town.
Next, we’ve all seen the horrific scenes of the landing at Omaha Beach as seen in “Saving Private Ryan.” I remember watching veterans tearfully leaving the movie theater as their memories resurfaced, beyond their ability to handle (at least not in their first viewing of the film). Realism, sometimes, frankly sucks!
My thoughts tumbled from scene to scene, one movie to the next, one brave man to the next. What do we remember? What do we celebrate? With tears in my eyes now, I finish with my thanks to all our living D-Day heroes, as you all are, or “oughtta be.” You got your ticker-tape parade when you came home and I saw you each year as a Brownie, Girl Scout or school band member as we marched past you in the Memorial Day parade. Now, I visit you, often forgotten and alone, stuck in so many senior care facilities unrecognized and uncherished by the overworked staff that doesn’t even seem to care.
I thank God for the Elks and all the charitable organizations that at least pledge to be there for all our veterans and active-duty families. We can never thank you enough for what you did then, and all you did upon returning home to try to go on living and making America truly the “Land of the Free and the Home of Brave.”
The word “thanks” falls woefully short of all you deserve, and my tears don’t make a difference either. Yet, I have neither the vocabulary nor the ability to say or do more. Simply know you are not forgotten!
God bless you, your undaunted courage so many years ago, and what I hope is your timeless pride in being part of saving us all … for saving the whole free world. Thank you!