From bravery to my back yard

There has been a lot in the news about D-Day lately, mostly due to the fact that this is the 75th year anniversary. A lot of men died that day, on Normandy Beach. Over the years, there have been many estimates about how many sacrificed their lives that terrible, terrible day.

There were so many different estimates for Allied D-Day fatalities. Those projections ranged from 5,000 to 12,000. The actual number they came up with is 4,414. There are 4,414 names enshrined in bronze plaques (at the Memorial Site in Bedford, Virginia) representing every Allied soldier, sailor, airman and coast guardsman who died on D-Day.*

I can’t even imagine. My Dad served during WWII, on the European Front. As my memory serves, he went in the following day, with the next wave of troops and anti-tank & aircraft guns.

As kids, we would ask Dad about WWII and what it was like. But he always eluded the questions. He’d tell the story about how he broke his toe in Basic’s. Or how some guys in his unit, blew themselves up one night fishing with dynamite.

I suspect that what he saw, and did, was sometimes too much for him. I see these men on TV now, in their 90s, recounting the stories. They cry. They shudder. The fall silent and shake their heads. They still carry those memories, those visions, those heartaches with them.

All I know about this, is the hollow feeling I get inside when I think about those men, and what they went through. And I think sometimes, this world can be very cruel and unjust. I am thankful for them. I wish they could find peace.

Many people believe this world can somehow all be explained. I’ve heard them say, “There is a reason for everything.”

I’m not sure that’s true. Perhaps there is a plan, with a perfect order, and everything is mapped out clearly, to the very second. For all 7 billion of us. Like a clock ticking, one moment following the next.

But I’m not sure there is a reason sometimes. At least, my human brain does not have the capacity to fathom with it might be. Not just with this, but with a lot of things.

I’ve heard too, “It is a blessing in disguise.” I wonder about this one as well. Like, are the Angels up in Heaven, and they are getting ready to throw down another Blessing on Humankind? And Gabriel says: “Hey. Wait. Wait. Let’s disguise this one.” He runs and gets an overcoat, dark glasses, and a fake mustache, and dresses that Blessing in a great concealment. And then, they push it out of Heaven’s door and it falls to earth to meet us. A Blessing in Disguise.

And they laugh. Michael says, “Hey. Let’s do it again. Put this one in a Chef’s outfit.”

Oh. I don’t know. I believe that Gabriel & Michael have great senses of humor. But I don’t know about the rest of it.

Today, though. I will remember. Not only D-Day, but a lot of other times where people have sacrificed, and given to others. The women long ago, who marched so that I have the right to vote today. The people during the Civil War who fought to abolish slavery. Those still fighting today for equal rights for Homosexuals.

And, that’s another thing. We have been tagged the LBGT Community. It has a nice ring and all. But it makes it sound like we live in some big neighborhood with cul-de-sacs. And that we take our campers out, all together, and have cook-outs, and play Lawn Darts. We don’t. In fact, the fate of what happens to us is scary.

Maybe that LBGT tag is a blessing, in disguise.

Here’s the thing. I sit here and I write this freely. And tonight I will publish this freely, and people will read it without fear of being imprisoned. And for that I am thankful. To all of those who have come before me, and afforded me these luxuries. The luxury, and privilege, of Freedom. I am thankful.


“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
― Coco Chanel


“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
― Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man


“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”
― Abraham Lincoln, Complete Works – Volume XII


*(From the History Channel: “That figure was the result of years of exhaustive research by librarian and genealogist Carol Tuckwiller on behalf of the Foundation, and remains the most accurate count of Allied fatalities within the 24-hour period known as D-Day.”)