Thursday, June 06, 2019

A Day Beyond Time

US Veteran Jack Gulman was 18 when he landed on Omaha Beach (AFP / G. SOUVANT)

Most of us probably have a memory in our lives that seem to stand outside of time. Whenever we think of it, the memory is fresh, vivid, and enduring. If we're fortunate, it's a good memory. We relive the details of that moment as though it is happening now. It's a life moment beyond the reach of time.

I'm sure the soldiers who survived D-Day seventy-five years ago today carry that life moment as though it occurred this morning. No doubt they have remembered it, the friends they lost, and the horrifying things they saw, every day of their lives. These fragile men in their nineties, many walking with canes or sitting in wheelchairs, were the terrified teenagers and young adults who stormed the beaches at Normandy. These soldiers, barely past childhood, by the strength of pure courage, sense of duty, and devotion to their brothers-in-arms, forced tyranny into retreat and rewrote the history of Western civilization.

There aren't many of them left, these treasured heroes. But they are indeed "the pride of our nation...the glory of our republic," as President Trump so sincerely praised them. To a man, they seem to reject the honor. Like all heroes, each one refuses the title and extends it instead to their friends who died. Yes, the fallen soldiers are heroes. But we know, all of us who have lived in freedom, comfort and prosperity because of their unimaginable sacrifices--we know the survivors are heroes, too. For they have led long lives of honor, goodness, and integrity despite their life sentence of remembering with brutal clarity that horrifying day--June 6, 1944. D-Day. A day beyond time.