We’re coming up on June 6th, the 70th anniversary of D-Day. I’ve been watching (read that, wallowing in) documentaries about that day. The other night, it was a PBS documentary about the 2008 dedication in Normandy of the first memorial to the Navy’s contribution on D-Day. There were memorials to all the other armed forces involved in Operation Overlord, but the Navy had been overlooked.
My father was in the Navy during WW II, and he drove one of those landing craft back and forth all day on June 6, 1944. His journal says it was Omaha Beach I know it’s not that simple. Some of his memories from the only time he spoke of that day are here:
In October, my father will have been gone for twelve years. He had been gone for six years by the time that Navy memorial went up. He was alive for the 50th anniversary of D-Day, in 1994. He said he’d like to go back to Normandy some day. He’d never been out of the country, except in the Navy during WW II. Why didn’t I go to Normandy with him?
I can’t visit his grave. My father doesn’t have a grave; he and my mother were cremated and their ashes scattered over the desert and over mountains respectively.
So next Friday, which will be the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I’m going to visit a cemetery four states from where my father lived, and I’m going to lay flowers on a stranger’s grave. I’ll look for a grave that may be a little neglected. It would be nice if I could find a neglected one with a birth year of 1922. I’ll find the right one, and I’ll leave flowers for my father.
I’m not dutiful, or conventional, or sentimental, and I thought I’d never live to see the day…I wish my father had.