6/08/2009

Saturday's D-Day Memorial Services


We have services in our area for Veteran's Day, Memorial Day and, to a lesser extent, D-Day. I try to attend at least one of these a year. It just so happened I made it this year to the services for that fateful day of June 6, 1944. It lasted about 20-25 minutes with the usual speeches, moment of silence and the playing of taps.

I noticed there was one elderly gentleman sitting all alone on one of the many iron benches. He had a tiny American flag that he was twirling between his two fingers. I decided I would walk over and say hello. Seems that "Jim" is 92 years old and a survivor of the landing at Normandy's Omaha Beach. Omaha Beach was where the bloodiest fighting took place. He was a 27 year old U.S. Army Sargent leading the way for the men in his unit. Jim told me he was now basically all alone in the world now, save for two grandchildren and several great-grandchildren he rarely ever saw. Jim had outlived two wives and both of his sons. So, here he was all alone to help commemorate one of our most sacred days of the year. He said he never missed an occasion to pay tribute to his "band of brothers" who died as 19 and 20 year old men, 65 years ago. I shook hands with Jim and told him it was an honor to meet him. He told me he appreciated my saying that. But, he felt all the honor should go to the men who gave their lives that day on the beaches of Normandy, France. Jim got off the bench, got into his electric wheelchair and got back into his car to leave.

I think I will be making it a point to be at every service for Veteran's Day, Memorial Day and D-Day from now on. If a 92 year old man, with crippling arthritis, feels obligated to do it, then I should be able to also. Like Jim said to me, "It is the least I can do."

2 comments:

David - very touching. I'm so glad you talked to "Jim" and wrote about it. You are right. It's the least we can do.

Koe, thanks much. It was my honor to speak to this gentleman.

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