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Honoring a 2nd Wave Normandy Vet

[These were raw thoughts I could not get out of my head.  This after a conversation with a WWII Normandy vet & his son.  This conversation was in August of 2010.]

Tonight, I went to see my editor Larry.  He was done with the book, and was excited.  Short chit-chat about the book, and blah, blah…..it will do exceedingly…. liked the ending… well…blah, blah.

So we sat on the back-patio discussing life, relationships, etc.

Larry kept getting up to check on his dad visiting from Seattle.  His dad was in a wheel chair.

Once when Larry came back I told him that the book dedication was to WWII vets.  This because a  country (Germany) rid “Trial by Jury”, and 20 years later 20 million people were dead.  The dedication is because our Veterans had to make up for the difference, and prevent the murder of many millions more.

Larry responded, “My dad stormed the beach of Normandy.”

I responded with respect, “Really?”

Larry then told his dad’s story.  “My dad was 2nd wave.  My dad didn’t share the story until I was in my 20’s.  Dad’s landing-craft dropped the tail-gate, and it splashed in the ocean.  Except the ocean was not ocean.  It was mixed with blood.  When the gate hit the water, it splashed blood on everybody in the landing craft.  Then this vet on the 50 caliber half-track moved onto shore, and hit bump after bump.  Those bumps were fallen servicemen.  Everywhere they turned there were fallen servicemen.   They could not avoid them, so they had no choice, as they were everywhere, and they had to move forward.”

We sat in somber silence for a while, as neither of us knew what to say about such a life-altering event.

Then Larry added, “My dad was so scared of dying that he pooped his pants in the landing craft, and well, for 3 days had the same problem from the trauma.”

Then Larry got up and went in to check his father again.

When Larry came back out, I was quickly packed and said, “I need to leave so you can spend time with your father.”   Larry added, “You gotta meet him.”   Although we met when I first came in, I really had to meet him.  Really wanted to honor him somehow..

I walked up to him and shook his hand again, and said with somber respect, “Thank you for your service to our country.”   He responded with a thanks like, “Yeah, heard it before.”

I then added, “My book’s dedication is to veterans who had to make-up for a country that abandoned “Trial by Jury” to which within 20 years 20 million people died.”

He was not sure what I was talking about so I said, “The dedication is to WWII veterans.” 

By the Vet’s reaction, Larry had obviously told him of the book’s content, and the intent to protect and preserve the constitution.   This vet then said strongly, “Good”, and did a crucifix action across his heart.  And shook my hand again.  Then his tears began to well up.   I started to have tears well up as well.

There was a moment of silent respect.

What can one say to this?

We quickly suppressed the tears and then he said, “After all that and this damn ***swearword*** we have in the white-house.”   He instantly went from tears to anger. 

I can respect his anger if I looked from his perspective.  He put his life on the line.  Went through terrible anxt to preserve the liberties provided in the constitution, and now he perceives a president who does not care about it.

Then he said, “We were in Germany in June, and next May was VE (Victory in Europe).  What the hell is going in in Iraq & Afghanistan?”

We exchanged a few words some things about future generations and our concerns of the country we will leave them.  Mostly, his deep concern of future generations.  Then I left to respect Larry’s time with his dad.

On the way home I just could not put it out of my mind.   After 66 years, and tears welled-up over Normandy.   What did he go through?   I’m sure present questions he has is “Was it in vain?  Will liberty continue?   Will young Americans appreciate the America I fought for and had friends die for?  Looking at the present America, was Normandy in vain?”

I then thought, “How can I honor those that died for our freedom?   For those that put their life on the line for liberty?   At least honoring them is a start.”

I can’t add to his tears…..  I’ve now run out of words to express what I’m feeling.  How do I express my respect for his courage and love of country?  Words will not suffice………

Daniel F. Simon

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