Friday, June 6, 2014

Thanks

Seventy years ago, my old man was busy trying to stay alive by
killing Japanese boys.

And by outfitting aeroplanes with equipment better to
kill Japanese boys.

So he was not busy killing German boys.

Or dying at the hands of German boys.  And men.  And tanks.

And artillery.

A lot of boys and men did die at their hands, including those who must have died in the most horrible way I can imagine:  being shoveled by massive sea-borne tools into near-certain death.

What must they have felt when the landing craft slowed, and the crank was heard lowering that thin steel and iron barrier, with a continent aimed at their heart?  And for those who came out alive, how have they slept for the last seventy years?

The boys and men pictured here seem to be lucky ones.  Standing, wading --  lots never got even that far.




If the Allies hadn't been bold, and foolish, and obsessive, and lucky, Hitler might have extended the war for years -- or long enough to subdue the Allies with murderous rockets.  Rather than discussing the legacy of Hiroshima, we might instead be commemorating the dead of Manchester.

Of course, the boys and men who climbed out of those boats didn't constitute the Greatest Generation -- they came home, and started us on the path to our doom.  They raised children without shame, children willing to mortgage our children's futures for leisure and excess (I should know; I'm a mortgagor).

But those that came home came back having accomplished something worth thanking them for.

My old man, although thankfully not a Marine, landed with the Marines on Iwo Jima.  When I asked him "what Wave?" he'd landed in, he looked at me like I had just proven myself The World's Biggest Fool:  "there weren't waves," he said.  "There was only chaos."

And my old man looked up to the boys of Omaha Beach.  And Utah Beach.  and those lesser Canadian-type beaches, where boys bled their guts out and died, alone, staring at a smoky sky.  If my old man thought highly of them, it's good enough for me.

I say thank you to every last one of 'em. . . .

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