"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

D-Day, 70 years ago, respect written in blood

American soldiers heading to Omaha Beach in Normandy, 70 years ago.
It is now June 6 in England. At the end of that terrible day 70 years ago, 1,465 Americans were dead, 3,184 were wounded, 1,928 were missing, and 26 were captured. Omaha Beach claimed almost 2,000 of the total casualties.
Other Allied forces, mainly Brits, lost 1,914 dead. They were part of 156,000 Allied  troops who on D-Day crossed the English Channel to invade France and help defeat Germany in WWII. The Germans lost from 4,000 to 10,000 men.
I was five exactly five months old, home snug and safe and free in my crib in Dallas, Texas.
American and French flags honor each grave.
Today, the 172-acre American Cemetery atop the bluff at Omaha Beach at Colleville-sur-Mer, France, contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of the killed during the invasion and other operations in WWII. Included are the graves of Army Air Corps crew shot down over Europe as early as 1942. A total of 307 of the graves are of unknowns.
These men died and served to spare me the fate of much of the world which believed that all people should think alike, that free thought and expression are dangerous, that people are supposed to be subservient, that individuality and differences in beliefs, religions, races, languages is suspicious and should be squelched by force, that the might of military makes anything right, that individuals have no rights.
What frightens me is not that tyrants in other parts of the world still believe this.
The flag in the cemetery

What frightens and disgusts  me are the fanatics in America who still believe those ways. You can easily find specific recent  examples of each of those intolerant beliefs, echoed in the rhetoric by narrow-minded ideologues in our own state government, national government, political movements and media. They have invaded America by spouting thinly-designed hatred and mindless propaganda, threatening this country built on reason and respect of others. Yes, they are free to do so because of the sacrifice of those Americans 70 years ago, but they are not worthy of the mud on our soldiers' boots.
If D-Day means anything to us as a free people, we will  respect the rights of others who differ from us, encourage free thought and expression. Our vows should be written in the blood of those men who served on that day, 70 years ago.




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