65 Years Ago: June 6, 1944: D-Day – Allies land on the beaches of Normandy. In the biggest amphibious operation in history, 155,000 troops invade Nazi-occupied France.
65 Years Ago: June 5, 1944: First combat mission flown with B-29 Superfortresses. US 20th Bomber Command sends 98 B-29s from India to bomb Japanese-held Bangkok.
65 Years Ago: June 4, 1944: German troops evacuate Rome as the Allies advance in Italy.
65 Years Ago: June 3, 1944: German troops evacuate Rome as the Allies advance in Italy.
To commemorate the coming 65th anniversary of D-Day, I will be starting something new on my blog. In addition to my usual weekly posts, every day I will make a short post entitled “Today in World War II History,” which will highlight events that happened 65 years ago. On September 1, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II, I will add entries from 70 years ago.
I hope you enjoy this!
In August 2007, I was privileged to stand on Omaha Beach on a misty, overcast morning not unlike the men faced that historic day. As I stood on that long stretch of sand and gazed at those high bluffs which once bristled with machine guns, I was moved deeply. We’ve all seen the movies and watched the footage – men dashing with rifles in hand, stumbling in the waves, beckoning their buddies onward, sheltering against debris – falling to the sand. But being there and feeling that sand beneath my feet gave me another level of understanding.
Today the Normandy beaches bristle with people on holiday – those who come to remember, and those who come to play. Children laugh and chase the waves and build sand castles. Tourists stand in silence, wipe tears, take pictures. This is as it should be.
Sixty-five years ago, 155,000 American, British Commonwealth, and Free French troops landed in the biggest amphibious operation in history, along with free people from many other occupied nations. On Saturday, take a moment and remember those who risked their lives, who gave their lives so we can live in freedom.
I was so excited to learn today that my baby blog has received an award! Keli Gwyn at Romance Writers on the Journey http://www.romancewritersonthejourney.wordpress.com gave my little site the Lemonade Stand Award for a site showing “great attitude and gratitude” and the One Lovely Blog Award.
By the way, Keli’s blog is an amazing resource for writers on the road to publication, chockful of tips, resources, and interviews.
Last Thursday at fifth-grade Open House, my son Matthew showed off his state report on Kentucky. While enjoying the kids’ artwork, I noticed a handful of Big Projects – you know the kind with plywood and styrofoam and plastic trees.
“Um, Matthew,” I say. “Were you supposed to do a Big Project?”
His blue eyes stretch wide. He tucks his lips in.
“Um, yeah. It’s due Tuesday.”
“Tuesday?” I’m calculating – it’s Thursday night. I’m working Friday night, having guests for Saturday dinner, going to a friend’s house Sunday, holiday plans on Monday. Then comes Tuesday.
“I’m going to build Fort Boonesborough in Kentucky. I’m planning it in my head.”
My head hurts. Rewind thirty-odd years. In fourth grade Mrs. Dickey (whom I adored) assigned the Big California Mission Project. I made plans in my head, fabulous plans, but I did nothing. In fifth grade Mrs. Bush (who kind of scared me) assigned the Big US History Project. I made lovely, detailed mental plans. Again, I didn’t turn anything in.
This – this is my punishment. Three children. Six Big Projects. And this is the sixth time it’s been sprung on me close to – or after – the due date. I need Motrin.
Thursday night: Internet search on Fort Boonesborough, convert mental plans to paper plans, notice that pretzel sticks look like tiny logs.
Friday afternoon: buy craft supplies and jumbo bag of pretzels, send desperate Facebook plea for recipe for fake dirt.
Saturday while cleaning and cooking for BBQ: Matthew constructs fort from cardboard and pretzels.
Sunday & Monday: mix sand, paint, and white glue to make glop for ground. Matthew sets in buildings and trees. Trees fall over. Hot glue trees. Burn self with hot glue gun.
Tuesday: Matthew carts project to school. I eat chocolate. And pretzels.
I can’t wait for the seventh-grade Big Cell Model Project. Hmm, pretzels would make great microtubules…
Grandpa laughed at his own jokes.
Rather than weakening stories, Fred Stewart’s laughter strengthened them. He’d tell jokes in his straight-backed chair, arms folded, and his shoulders shook with laughter. Old jokes. Corny jokes. But he told them so well, I laughed too, even when I was a too-sophisticated college student.
Grandpa was a World War II veteran, a businessman of wisdom and integrity, and a valued member of church finance committees. He enjoyed walks in the California desert with my grandmother and took his two sons white-water rafting after he retired. I am blessed to be his granddaughter.
When his heart gave way in 1992, his memorial service packed the sanctuary, and my grandmother’s home filled with out-of-town relatives, including a ravenous women in her third trimester (me). The logistics of feeding the crowd could have compounded Grandma’s grief, but the people of the church reached out with tangible love and provided meals. They stuffed the refrigerator with lasagna, enchiladas, fried rice – and peaches.
Grandpa passed away in August. Peach season.
We received peach pies, cobblers, and jam. Bags of fresh peaches covered Grandma’s kitchen counter. The scent of peaches permeated the house. As the week passed and the fruit piled up, we struggled to suppress laughter when yet another friend presented peaches with pride and delight. After they left, the laughter came, and with the laughter came tears. Grandpa would have relished the humor, he would have told the story often and well, and he would have chuckled when he told it.
Whenever I see a peach, I recall the rosiness of Grandpa’s face when he laughed and the sweetness of the gifts my family received in our grief.
The gift of peaches. The gift of laughter.