Thursday, June 6, 2019

Unwrapping A Tribute To D-Day - 75 Years Ago - Romance Hasn't A Sole Claim On Heroes

My father in 1942
On this day, seventy-five years ago – June 6, 1944 – in the early morning hours of darkness, my father as a young 2nd Lieutenant in the Army, and a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment jumped out of an airplane over Normandy and survived being shot at by German gunners with spotlights to help liberate the town of Sainte-Mère-Église. Over 13,000 Americans and 7,000 British paratroopers fell from the skies in the darkness many hours ahead of the beach invasions of which D-Day is most famous. Not all of those 20,000 survived, not all were able to continue fighting because of injury and for the majority, it was their first experience with battle…including my father. These were young men doing things they never dreamed of doing but now had no choice if they wished to survive. Most were very young but they had trained well and when it was needed most, the hero inside each was there.

My father survived that fateful night and although injured, he continued on leading his company of men. He gained battlefield promotions and continued against the Germans through several more campaigns including the bloodiest at the Battle of the Bulge. Most of the journey through Europe was on foot as well.
The Battle of the Bulge was fought in snow feet deep. It's said the snow turned red with the blood of the fallen.
My father continued after the war with a career in the military, serving in the Korean Conflict and eventually, his final assignment was working with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. I have always been proud to be his daughter and proud of his lifetime service to this country. Without men like him, who knows what our world would be had the enemy succeeded in their world domination. My father was and always will be my greatest hero.

Shannon L. Alder said, “Heroes are not made. They are born out of circumstances and rise to the occasion when their spirit can no longer coexist with the hypocrisy of injustice to others.”

This is true. The generation of men who served in one of the greatest wars to visit this planet were heroes of a sort we may never see again. They were not perfect. There were those who shunned their duty to their fellow man and there were those who took the wrong path and became an enemy to doing the right thing. But the majority of men and many a woman as well showed their honor, their bravery, and the hero which lives within every human being but only a select few are ever able to bring it forth.

The numbers of World War II veterans is quickly diminishing. My father left us on Veteran’s Day in 2016 but he never allowed June 6th to pass without remembering the day and the sacrifices of the invasion. He would tell us about the things that went wrong, the things that worked, and the pure dumb luck which most likely saved many. He would’ve been 99 years young this year had he still been with us and I’m sure he would’ve remembered the day as always and possibly with a bit of amazement. Seventy-five years since the beginning of the end of the war which threatened the freedom of the planet but good triumphed over evil. God Bless.

In memory of all those who fought on the shores, the seas, in the air, across the different theatres and of course, on the home front—thank you for your service, the service of your family for supporting you, and for allowing us the privilege of knowing you and continuing to live in the freedom for which you fought to keep.

God Bless our military now and always. And Airborne All the Way! 


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