Friday, June 6, 2014

Utah. Omaha. Gold. Juno. Sword. 70 Years Hence.

How awesome do you have to be to wade through water and walk directly into enemy gunfire? How much courage does it take to jump out of a plane into enemy gunfire, where you are as likely to die getting caught in a tree, or a church roof, like in Sainte-Mere Eglise.

Reading Twitter from 12:30 am this morning, 6:30am in France, when the first men hit the beaches,  I found the same thought I had written over and over and over:

"Imagine being a 19yr old in the bowels of a ship then a transport to the beaches of Normandy door drops & all u see is hell"

"And today, on June 6, I wanna thank the brave American boys my age who died at #OmahaBeach"

"70 years ago, men lost their lives for what we have now. I doubt I have even an ounce of the bravery they had."

The rhetoric about heroes is inevitable, but I find the voices on Twitter sharing more direct, personal, grounded thoughts about this history. What comes across is the sense of awe that these boys from the farms and cities across the nation, joining with the Allied forces, did what they did. And it is humbling every time you get down to that basic fact: those individuals sitting in the transport, sitting in the plane, and hitting the beaches, knowing very well they might not live to see the end of the bloody day.

Operation Overload almost defies imagination--because of its immense scope, the audacity of its imagination, and a tactical brilliance that seems to be lost a completely lost art--and yet it happened.

We are the witnesses of the final passing away of this generation.  For me, it is remarkable and inspiring that both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip are still alive to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the storming of the beaches and the march to Berlin that ended World War 11.

I was interested in the 2009 ceremonies, the 65th anniversary, because it felt to me that that was the actual close of the 20th century. And in one of those ridiculous political idiocies, the Queen was not invited to the commemoration in Normandy that year.  There was much finger pointing, and Charles attended for all to save face.

This year the French are hosting a State Visit for the Queen and Duke. And old, old age notwithstanding, the Queen's commitment to the importance of this history and the service of the British people propels her to KBO.