Hunker Down

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 09:21 AM.

            Pinned down, they inched forward. They couldn’t go back and moving inland seemed like certain death. It was as much of a killing field as history has ever mustered up. The German fire didn’t slack for a second. And yet, somehow, someway, our guys kept moving. I think it was Brigadier General Norman Cota, one of the highest ranking officers on the beach that morning, who inspired many by imploring them to “get the heck off this beach”.

            My breathing began to get heavy, and I slowed a little. It’s a long way to those bluffs! And all of it across open, exposed ground. I have the utmost admiration and respect for anyone who has ever put on the uniform. But as I actually took in what these young soldiers had done here, as I looked about, as I pondered on the breadth of it……and maybe the insanity of it, I was past being in awe. Reading about it in some book is one thing. But to spy it “with my own little eyes” is another whole ball game! What men we sent across the Channel that day!

            I have never been prouder to be an American.

            Or sadder. Here is some perspective for you. One out of every eighteen men who stepped off those landing crafts that bloody morning died on Omaha Beach. They gave up their future….for the future.

            We can’t honor them enough. We can’t hold them in high enough esteem. We can’t remember them too much. We can’t point to them with pride too often.

            They are not called the greatest generation for nothing!

            I reached a small portion of an old sea wall as the beach ran into a low marsh. Probably the same sea wall so many of them hunkered behind for protection and to catch their collective breaths before scaling it and moving on up the bluff. I swung up on it and looked back toward the beach I had just traversed. It was, on this April morning in 2013, so very, very serene and peaceful. Just like my life! I had lived 66 of those 69 years since D-Day in complete tranquility and safety. Not a hiccup or even a bump in the road for me. I had lived an ideal life, in an ideal time, in an ideal place.  

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