D-Day plus 70

Friday - 6/6/2014, 2:00am EDT

My daughter called yesterday morning to tell me that her grandfather (my former father-in-law) had died at a VA hospital in Virginia. His name was Ed Dunn. He was in his 90s. The last living link I have, or had, to the Greatest Generation. That's true for a lot of us.

My father served in the Pacific during World War II. Army Air Corps. Three uncles did too. Two Army, one Navy. They all made it back.

There was a time, not so long ago, when most of us had direct links to veterans. When many, if not most, members of Congress had served. Now, not so much.

A wonderful family friend, Phil from Shamokin, Pa., participated in the Normandy Invasion. The ship he and his brother were on was sunk. They were rescued by a Canadian corvette and made it to D-Day. That was 70 years ago, today. Both survived the war. Both are now gone.

We are told that some, maybe lots, of young people today complain that they won't have what their parents had. I've never had anyone complain about that, but it may be true. And if it is true, they are correct. They won't have what their parents had, but they may have more. Hopefully their family will have more than one car, one bathroom like their parents did.

Hopefully they will never have to go through something like World War II ever again. War now is reported live and in real time. We rightly mourn the casualties, but compared to World War II, or Korea or Vietnam, they are relatively small. The U.S. took 23,000 casualties in fighting over the tiny island of Iwo Jima in the last months of the war. Those numbers are staggering, but they were not unusual.

The tiny town of Bedford, Va., was shattered on D-Day. Lots of its sons belonged to the National Guard unit, one of many, that landed on Omaha Beach. The 29th (Blue/Gray) Division was made up of young men from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. It took some of the heaviest hits during the battle.

Telegrams from the War Department arrived all day on June 7 and for days after, informing parents, wives and siblings of the death of a loved one.

Several years ago. I went to Normandy with my son. Lots of elderly Americans walking around. Many with their families. There was a reunion of British paratroopers going on, and lots of Canadians were there too. Some visited the beach. More went to the cemeteries.

For a while, I watched a Frenchman. He was watching a group of rather rowdy Americans. Having heard how rude the French can be, and how they are all anti-Americans, I went over and introduced myself. In English, which he spoke. I rolled my eyes at my noisy countrymen and sort of apologized. I said I could understand why some French people thought of Americans as childlike. At best.

"Not here," he said. "Not at Normandy. Here we love Americans, and will never forget."

Right after he spoke, a group of local French high-school kids, pulled up in a bus. They got out. Sang "God Bless America," then proceeded to hand out individual flowers to anybody who even looked like an American. I got one too.

Click here to view a photo gallery commemorating D-Day.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

The most ambiguous term on Wikipedia — meaning it has the most disambiguation pages on the online encyclopedia — is "St. Mary's Church." That refers to 584 different pages. The term with the second highest number of disambiguation pages is Communist Party, which refers to 569 separate pages.

(Source: Slate)


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