Memorial Day is once again upon us and the Lord has seen fit to recreate the conditions that existed on June 6, 1944 on the shores of France where thousands of troops landed on D-Day. Today it is cloudy, with a guarantee of uncertainty in the air as America faces the inconvenience of Covid-19. This malady is just that, an inconvenience as opposed to the hardship of landing on a beach, facing withering fire from a German army that knows full well that if they don’t stop us here, we will not be stopped.
Memorial Day belongs to the dead. It is an occasion where we remember those in uniform whose only thoughts were of survival and the God given blessing that if death is to be their reward, they die well. On Omaha Beach, 2,000 American soldiers were casualties, killed, wounded or simply gone from the face of the earth, their fate a closely guarded secret of the Master. Our British brothers and sisters in arms suffered the same fate, 2,000 lost on Sword and Gold Beach while our Canadian warriors lost 340 on Juno Beach, a great number when considered in the context of troops on the ground. The bedlam, uncertainty and smell of death permeated the air, but failed to stop America’s greatest blessing, our military, as they began the march to Hitler’s bunker, joined by the British and Canadians.
The media today is rife with stories of immense suffering as a result of the pandemic that has us in it’s grip. The financial impact is terrible and certainly the toll in human suffering is seemingly unbearable. It is important, though, that we place the events of today in context. Much has been written about the financial impact of the pandemic on our country. On June 6, 1944, the troops who waded into certain death were guaranteed a boxed meal, ammunition and the princely sum of 1.69 a day in wages. When you are in a gunfight, there is little time to consider the politics of the day, or whether or not your rations contain pound cake or fruit cocktail. When you were bouncing along in the Higgins boat, on your way in, with round after round pounding the ramp on your boat, you tuned out the smell of cordite, vomit, sweat and blood as it mixed with the sea air. The screams of the wounded on the beach ahead of you, the visions of troops wounded and drowning because they cannot stand to get their heads above water is secondary to your efforts to avoid a similar fate. You sure as hell were not concerned with the 1.69 that you were being paid for this days work. This, my friends is hardship, as opposed to inconvenience.
May God, on this Memorial Day, touch the souls of every man and woman who died in defense of this great country. War is the single most disorganized, chaotic exercise in discipline and courage known to man. It is a multi-sensory experience that will likely plague the human race until the final bell is rung by a Master tired of our lack of respect for one another. I write today in remembrance of those in uniform who were struck down on D-Day and every day of every war we have waged throughout history. To die well is the ultimate measure of courage, and those who have shed their blood for America deserve this holiday.
As you enjoy this weekend, and begin to emerge from the inconvenience of the current virus induced pandemic, take just a minute to thank those who have surrendered their souls to God in the name of America. Memorial Day is their day and they deserve your appreciation. Death was their reward. We must never forget them……never.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.
2 thoughts on “$1.69 A Day……..”
My uncle, Billy Jones went in on Omaha beach in the first wave. He was a mortarman and was hit the second day. the rest of his squad was killed and he lost part of his right hand. I wished I had written his story.
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God bless him! What warriors they were.