Sunday, June 07, 2009

D-Day

Well, I took some time to learn a little bit more than my American education actually taught me about D-Day yesterday, after seeing everything on the news and wanting to really understand. I had only a vague knowledge that something important happened that day in the war, something that led to the end of the war, but I really couldn't remember or never knew much about "our" (and, of course, those countries that fought with us) part in things.

That's something, isn't it? I mean, I have education beyond my four-year university degree, and I still don't really know. I have talked with some friends about our education, especially where American history is concerned (world history, fuggedaboutit), and we all have similar stories, at least we public school kids. We all remember that, although we were offered --and took-- many American History classes ... they all seemed to cover only a certain amount of time, like from the birth of our nation (I could probably tell you a lot more about the American Revolution than anything else we ever did!!) to MAYBE the Civil War. Um, hello? There are a few more years after that, and we all remember that the classes would just keep attempting to start at the beginning and then just fail to get to the present. Weird.

And this is NOT an attempt to start an attack on the public school system. My own mother, and others I know closely, have worked within that system for their entire lives, and I know what a tangles, fucked-up web that is. I just think that, I guess ... If you find you are missing something from your education that you want to know about in life, well, I guess there comes a point when you better just go and find out yourself! And THAT is what I have found most useful about my education, by the way: the fact that, while I didn't learn or remember everything I was ever taught or could be taught I'm sure, I did learn a lot about HOW TO FIND OUT. And that is invaluable!

Anyway, I took a guess when talking with my dad and a few other older members of my family who did learn or who were there, regarding D-Day. Happily, I guessed the correct year and some other general facts, so they must be in my little brain somewhere! But I am just overwhelmed, as people seem to be every year, no matter how much time has passed, by the sheer will and determination and loyalty of the men who fought, who stomed the beach as they say. And so much was at stake, with Hitler's forces, as we know even more now. Hmmm, I am finding it difficult to explain, but I want to say a great big THANK YOU to all of those veterans out there today for doing what they do and have done. I guess I'm trying in a very small way to show better appreciation by learning about you and where you have been.

To be sure, I enjoy my freedom and our imperfect, beautiful democratic country. And I know a little more now about where that comes from and who has protected it. I also watched several programs on TV that let me "see" and "meet" some of those vets still alive. One more remarkable thing I noticed about these older guys was that no one seemed bitter or angry or anything. I mean, they had lost eyes and limbs and just been through so much in most cases, but they were proud to be honored and proud of their country and proud of what we have done. They also ALL (that I saw interviewed) commented that when you have seen real battle like that, then you know better than EVER to go into war unless you have to. I thought that was interesting too.

2 comments:

TOM said...

Watch the movie "Saving Private Ryan and you may get an idea what that beach landing was like

Big Al said...

It's also interesting to note that we haven't really celebrated our WWII heroes until the past few years!! It's like we as a society took all the vets for granted until they started dying off. Maybe it's because that generation took for granted what they had to do without complaint. Also, many of the vets just never talked about their experiences because it was so awful. I have a great respect for the sacrifices they made and the job they did way back when. I can't imagine storming Normandy facing all hell coming down on you. Wow.