On June 6, 1944 – 67 years ago – allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in order to liberate France from German occupation.
To be honest, I don’t know much about D-Day. In history class, we never seemed to make it to World War II before the end of the school year.
My grandfather was not one of the soldiers who stormed the beaches that day. Instead, he was a paratrooper, and he parachuted into occupied France the evening before D-Day. Unfortunately, he died when I was very young, so I never heard his stories.
I’ve read books about D-Day, of course. But, recently, I learned some things that I never found in the books.
You see, a few months ago, God brought a man named Donald into my life. When I met Donald, he was already in bad health, suffering from black lung after working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania for many decades. I had an opportunity to spend some time with Donald not long ago. During that time, he shared some stories about his time in the Army during World War II.
Before, during, and after the war, Donald was a mechanic. He worked on anything that moved (that wasn’t living). He landed on Omaha beach that June 6th morning. While he was talking about losing many, many friends, I learned much about war. I didn’t learn so much from his stories as from the reverence in his voice and the pain in his eyes.
Donald died about a month ago. Even though I didn’t know him very long, I miss him. I know his family misses him even more.
There are only a few like Donald alive today. (Think about it like this: A twenty year old who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day would be 87 today.)
If you have a chance, talk to someone who lived through that day. I think it will change your life.