I was born in the shadow of World War II. Each year, June 6, was a day everyone stopped and remembered this day in 1944. For many years I saw my mother shed tears on this day as she would take a photo of a young sailor from the bottom of a cedar chest.
She wrapped the photo in a silk scarf, which I later learned was a gift to my Mother from the young sailor in the picture. His name was Joe Dorrity, and he died during World War II in the Pacific Theater. He was not a D-Day casualty, but this was the day Mom set aside to remember him.
He was the great love of my Mother’s life. My father was her companion, but Joe was her passion, and had he lived, most surely would have been my Mom’s husband, and father to her children. She would look at the photo and smile, then shed silent tears. After a while, she would dry her tears, re-wrap the picture, and go on with her life.
My Mother’s life-long grief is something shared by Mothers, and lovers of young men and women who went to war and did not come home. She was not alone in her grief.
“They’re murdering us here. Let’s move inland and get murdered.” –Colonel Charles D. Canham, commander of the 116th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, on Omaha Beach.
The Battle of Normandy was a bloody affair. Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the battle. Of that number, 209,000 were allied casualties. Nearly 37,000 ground forces lost their lives as well as 16,714 among the Allied Air Forces.
The German High Command thought American soldiers were credulous, and would not stand up to the fight in Germany once they saw how his soldiers would fight for the Fatherland. German General Alfred Jodl said, “We shall see who fights better and who dies more easily, the German soldier faced with the destruction of his homeland or the Americans and British, who don’t even know what they are fighting for in Europe.”
That belief was a fatal flaw by Jodl. Americans did know what we were fighting, for; we were fighting for freedom.
That is what Americans do. We fight for freedom. There is a term for it, American Exceptionalism. Americans have always believed America holds an exceptional place in the…