In my previous article For Father’s Day I wrote of how my father is my spirit co-writer for my articles. This week, in honour of our veterans, I’d like to let him speak to you through the words written in his memoirs of the war years. But, before you read his recollections of D-Day, and of the moment he heard the war was over, I’d like to share with you a portion of a thank-you letter he wrote one Veterans Day:
Today is November 11, 2006, and it has brought thoughts to mind that I feel must be expressed to paper. I have today received a bouquet of flowers. As I am male, and until this year never had the privilege of receiving flowers, I never expected to receive such a gift; it just didn’t seem appropriate. However, it is Veterans Day and I am a veteran, so I look upon this as something that I am accepting with gratitude in the name of all those who gave their all, that the rest of us might live. What more could anyone ask for?
I could cry when I think of all those young lives lost and resting in foreign soil. It is a day for remembering, but also a day of gratitude, that we who are here can enjoy our remaining days. I shall look upon them (the flowers) and remember my friends who have done their duty willingly and have passed onto their rest. May God bless them all……
Here are his thoughts on D-Day:
During the day, it was announced that this was indeed D-Day. We sailed all day and in the afternoon arrived at our destination. Lights were flashing across the sea; the warships were firing their big guns. It was then that I realized this was something that I was not prepared for; I was not trained as a fighting man, I was merely a signalman. I remember saying to myself, now is the time to be frightened, I looked at my arm and thought maybe I could lose it this very day. Then something happened that solved all our problems, we struck a sandbank and were stranded, too far out to use our vehicles or wade through the surf. We could see the beach and that was it.
On hearing that the war was over:
I was returning to our encampment when one of the men yelled to me, “the war is over!” I don’t think it settled in my mind what he had said. The war couldn’t be over, it just went on forever, everyone knew that….. Then I realized I would be going home. I would be leaving this place and be returning to where I belonged. It was like coming out of a dream. No more duties, no more dangers. Back to a life that was ordinary. It was too good to be true. All this was now going to be in the past. I could taste the freedom that was now coming to me.
Thank you dad, and a thank-you to all our veterans, for allowing us to keep tasting that freedom….