Coming through the fire: Remembering D-day

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Today is the 70th anniversary of a key battle in WWII, D-Day. This battle marked the end of the Totalitarian regime of Hitler. Although, it would take another year of fighting before the war would end.

So many lives were lost on this day, so much bloodshed and so much pain. This is a somber day for all who survived, for all those who are still alive and can share their story of one of the bloodiest battles in the war.

Listen to the stories from soldiers on both sides. They do not discuss politics, they do not discuss who is right and who is wrong. Their stories are in the moment. They talk about bloodshed, loss, killing. The images of that day a burnt into their minds and souls. When they sleep, they return to it. When it’s quiet the screams echo in their ears.

For the Allies, winning the war is little compensation for the burdens that they took away from the beach that day. For the German alliance the shame of losing only amplifies the pain suffered.

When it boils down to a single battle, the ultimate winners and losers are not what matters it’s that split second when your adrenaline is pumping, when your eyes see, but your brain can’t absorb the horror. It’s that moment when you swallow your fear and you training takes over like an auto pilot on a plane. It’s the smell of the sea mixed with diesel fumes, the acrid scent of gunpowder, and the high metallic perfume of spilled blood.

No one escaped that day. No one was a mere spectator. Some of their wounds are visible but for all the worst are not.

Remember D-day for freedom, for the end of the war, but remember the soldiers who fought because they had no choice. Remember them as example of what hell truly means.
And remember all the horrors of this war as an example of why we can not allow this to happen again.

We are already forgetting, we are already allowing genocide to occur. Don’t dishonor all those who fought to stop this in WWII.

I admire the German people of today. Humbled by the past, they are determined not to repeat it. We need to do the same, no race is worthy of annihilation. No single country should dominate and forcefully invade another peaceful country in the name of expansion. If you have a voice, honor those who could not speak, stand up for justice and for the freedom to live.

In honor of Anthony “link” Cedrone rest in peace, tin can soldier.

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I am a survivor ? …maybe

As many of you know, I live in Boston. So much has been made of the anniversary of the marathon bombings in the last few days that it has me thinking….

What it truly means to be a survivor. Of course we know that those who were actually at the finish line are survivors. They were at ground zero and will carry in their hearts and minds the images of that day.

Then you have all of those runners still on the course who were stopped as the confusion set in. They were not running for prizes, but for personal triumphs and now a once safe event has been forever marred. Will they take to the course this year with a little trepidation?

The days after the bombings and the shoot out in Watertown, saw survivors too. My mind goes to the poor carjack victim who ran for his life at the first opportunity. He wakes up each day, but does he go to his car? Does he drive the same route to and from work? The police and EMT workers who came to both events, did they realize what was happening. What about the strangers who could do no more at the finish line so they walked to the nearest hospital to give blood. Are they survivors?

Many a warm spring day since I have spent on Newbury and Boylston streets. I’ve eaten in the restaurants that were damaged, sat on the stairs of the Boston Public Library and wondered why violence has to be. Why innocent people have to pay for someone else’s hatred.

We will forgive, we will come back, the marathon next week will be well attended and restaurants like the Forum will be full. But, we will be slightly on our guard, now. Slightly more aware of those around us. Slightly more careful, because as a town, a community, a city we have all survived the senseless violence of that day.

Nothing has shaken our resolve, we won’t sit cowering in our houses saying “what if”, but we have lost that innocence. That “it can’t happen here” mentality. It is that common thread that weaves us together that makes us feel a kinship to those still struggling to recover one year later. It is that thread that makes us all survivors…just a little bit.