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“I was lucky, most weren’t.”
“I’m here to remember my friends who didn’t make it home.”
If listening to them doesn’t make you come close to tears, at least, you aren’t human.
Seeing a man in his 90’s shed tears for fallen comrades 75 years ago is actually emotionally painful to watch. 75 years on, it is still fresh in his mind.
There is incredible humor there too.
A chap who commanded a landing craft, ferrying soldiers to the beaches of Normandy, tells how, after a couple of the days, ‘the Yanks’ took over for a while so he was able to go home to Southampton to see his family for a day.
He makes it sound like it was the weekend and he was coming home from work.
“On Monday, after a nice day with my wife, I went back to war”
‘I went back to war’. He made it sound like he was just going back to the factory, or the office. What absolutely unbelievable courage.
These people fought for us. They fought for what was then, the future. The future to be free from tyranny and oppression. The freedom to be what we wanted to be. The freedom to express ourselves through word, art, music or in whatever way we found for ourselves.
Many of them died fighting for us. Many of us would never have been born without their sacrifice.
Had we still been born, we would have been born into a world full of tyranny that makes today’s world seem like a cake walk in comparison.
Yes, there is division and hatred and terror in so many places but, here, in our western democracies, there is, and will always be, hope.
Hope that, sometimes, we ‘get it right’. Hope that, in perpetuity, we will never have to face what the veterans of WWII had to face. Hope that, never again, will there have to be the sacrifices that they made for us.
Perhaps, 75 years after D-Day, we do stand at something of a crossroads.
Political opinions are seemingly becoming increasingly polarized between the political left and the political right.
So many people are being drawn towards political extremes.
I myself, often have to step back and think hard. I often feel tempted by views classed as more ‘right’ then ‘left’. Then I think, ‘oh that’s all right though, I’m a supporter of the environment. I’m a supporter of equal rights for all. I’m a supporter of animal rights. I’m a supporter of protecting the natural environment from exploitation. I’m a leftie really aren’t I?’
Then I think, ‘hold up a second. I quite like Nigel Farage and many of the things he says. Isn’t he more right wing? How can I feel I quite like the cut of his jib if I’m a leftie?’
I often get metaphorically ‘clobbered’ over my views on uncontrolled immigration. That makes me a ‘rightie’ then.
But, but, but, what about my aforementioned leftie credentials?
You know what I am? Confused, that’s what I am.
There’s one thing I’m not confused about though. The deep and undying debt of gratitude that every single one of us owes to the people who sacrificed so much for us to be free. Free enough to be confused. Free enough to not always get it right, or say the right thing, or believe the right thing.
In the end, who cares what I, or anybody else thinks about what I, or anybody else actually thinks or says?
Hundreds of thousands of allied military personnel gave their lives so we could be free.
That’s what we should care about. That’s what we should defend for ever.
When we spend a nice day with our wife or husband or girlfriend or boyfriend, we go back to work in the factory or the office or what ever it is we do next.
We don’t go back to war.
Let’s keep it that way eh? Not just for us, but for those who had to go back to war and, for the young people who have never had to, and for the yet to be born generations who must never have to go through another war. Another D-Day.