Thoughtful Thursday: Remembering D-Day

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How can any of us fully express gratitude to the thousands of veterans from the United States and our Allies who risked their lives and gave their lives when they landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, to begin the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control during World War II?

The invasion was known as D-Day, and Friday, June 6, marks the 70th anniversary of the historic military event that would bring the downfall of Germany.

By the end of June 6, 155,000 Allied troops — Americans, British and Canadians — had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches. Several thousand were killed.

Many were young guys, much like Charlie Wilson whose story was told on the CBS Evening news last night. Mr. Wilson was only 18 years old when he landed on Utah Beach — a teenager in a tank. Despite being afraid that they would die, Mr. Wilson had faith, saying they were trained “… to surprise them and outsmart them (Germans).”

And they were trained to get off the beach as quickly as possible.

Leif Maseng of Chicago, Ill., was another 18-year-old when he enlisted in the Army. The young paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne was dropped into Normandy late at night before the invasion began. He found himself waist deep in a flooded field in Normandy and away from others in his division.

Mr. Maseng, who now lives in Columbia, S.C., eventually met up with his fellow paratroopers. They took part in the D-Day mission and later fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

In an article in The State newspaper, Mr. Maseng said that he had not wanted to go back until now. “It’s not a pleasant memory, and I drop it from my mind. But that is changing. I think I ought to see it now and remember what happened.”

Both Mr. Maseng and Mr. Wilson are in Normandy for the commemoration, expected to be attended by 5 million people and many world leaders.
These two men embody the bravery and courage of the Greatest Generation. At the beginning of their adult lives, they were called to do the impossible — and they were only teenagers! Yet, despite knowing that they could die at any moment, they were determined to give their all for their country. They changed impossible to possible and then to “done.”
Americans should carry the soldiers like Leif Maseng and Charlie Wilson in our hearts forever. They were on the front lines of liberating Europe and bringing an end to a terrible war.
They did what many in our nation wouldn’t do today. Because of their contributions and sacrifices — and those of so many others — we have the freedoms that we enjoy.
Humble to the core, these men don’t see themselves as heroes.

Mr. Wilson said he “would still go back if I had to today. I could still kick butt, if I had to.”

The Editorial Assistant, Mom Karen, and I think it’s time to let others “kick butt.” But if weren’t for Mr. Wilson and Mr. Maseng and those who served during this dark time, our history might be much different.

God bless you and all of those who have served our nation proudly and continue to do so today!

 

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