A day to remember

Published 9:30 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The publisher’s job in LaGrange is one I don’t always feel qualified for. I have second-guessed some of my decisions over the previous two months, unsure at times how to proceed. I have felt unprepared, nervous and out of place, and have had a few restless nights.

June 6 was a needed day of perspective that reminded me of all this wonderful opportunity, and community, offers my family and me.

June 6, 1944, 73 years ago this week, approximately 73,000 American souls scrambled out of Higgins boats and leapt out of airplanes, descending upon the beaches of northern France in Operation Neptune, otherwise known as D-Day. Many were men by law, but boys by nature. They carried with them, in addition to the gear and weaponry of soldiers, a heavy and somber reality that only accompanies moments of true mortality.

When I was a junior in college, I traveled to Normandy. I was a history major in college, and the World War II era has always been of particular interest to me. I was able to spend a few days in that region of northern France, visiting the beaches and cemeteries. Homage is a trait rarely experienced at 21 years of age, but cannot be avoided in the face of landscapes soaked in so much meaning.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, walking on to the pristine, silent, brown sand of Utah and Omaha Beaches that January afternoon. The quiet, I think, was what struck me most. The contrast from the image I had in my head of those beaches to what was before me was stark. In the stillness of that moment, I thought about a generation asked to give so much more than I have ever given, or likely ever will.

I am not old, but men younger than me set aside fear, doubt and discomfort all those years ago to answer a call, to do a job that needed doing, to protect the world from tyranny and oppression, to fight, and die, for the freedoms we enjoy today as Americans.

I think back on this day every so often. The memories have hidden themselves, like soldiers in foxholes, within the folds of my brain. They reach out to give me perspective on days like June 6. They serve as motivation. They challenge me, and humble me. They force me to set aside the doubts and nerves that accompany daily life and realize the things that trouble me are often trivial when compared to those great men who were doing a job that simply needed doing that day.