I know I'm late commemorating D-Day, which actually occurred 69 years ago last Thursday, but for weeks our troops were pinned down on the Normandy beach and dying trying to drive inland.
I was only just three when D-Day took place, so my personal memories of the actual event do not exist. What I do remember is the story of my sister-in-law's first husband who was killed on Normandy beach that day. One day, she showed me the telegram stating that her husband, an Army captain, was lost in the battle. She also had his captain's bars, which she gave to me. I was 10-years-old, and the end of the war was now another decade gone.
From time to time, I gazed at the bars, wondering how the captain had died. It also conjured up thoughts of the total horror of the landing, and the fact that life suddenly had become a matter of good luck.
The ships and planes are gone now from the French coast, where an endless cemetery overlooks the ocean. Comrades in arms from many nations are buried not far from where they fell during the Longest Day.
None in my family served during the war. My brothers were too young, and Dad was given a medical exemption. My closest kinship with the war was my sister-in-law, Mary's, experience.
Fact is, I was the only one to ever serve in our family. Drafted in 1966 as the war in Vietnam crested, I knew it was going to take my life.
I guess it didn't after all.