Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Remembering D Day, Not Uncle B

My uncle was with the Army Engineers in the Invasion, I know this much and I have one remembrance from him. It is well post landing and he is riding in a deuce and a half and it is cold. A guy decides some gasoline in a helmet would be a way to get warm, the results in a moving truck were predictable, my badly burned uncle came home. That's it. Other than the one other thing, he never touched a gun again and disliked them intensely.

That's it, but it isn't. He came home, went to college and became a highly placed engineer for GM and made a pretty good living. He also supported a lot of charities and was a pretty left sort of guy. He cared very much that there was suffering and injustice in the world and tried to help out. There were never any stories, only the marks on his soul to measure his service. He's gone now, two years ago, one of the nicest and most decent men I've ever known.

Uncle was typical of the vets I've known, no stories, no glory. The distance of film and victory and time takes away the horrors, those being there those days had no distance and the horror was very personal, mostly kept private. A few will talk to skillful interviewers, but mostly family and friends outside their fraternity are left outside. They will share with those who can actually understand the madness and that's alright. The rest of us can only admire their ability to do the things that had to be done and try to be worthy of their doing. It's a lot to live up to, to deserve the deaths and the scars of those people, a whole lot.

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