D-Day in my family is a day that has always commanded reverence. I have five family members buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and June 6th was the date that marked the major turning point for the Allies in World War II. Ed and Big Matt were best buddies at West Point during the late 1930s, although they ended up in different divisions in the U.S. Army in the invasion of France. Big Matt, my mother’s first husband, came ashore with the 1st Division in the weeks after D-Day. He was among those caught up in the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944. And when the Nazis surrounded Bastogne, Big Matt was killed on Christmas Eve during the American evacuation.
Ed landed in France with the 3rd Division shortly after his buddy, and he commanded a tank battalion under General George Patton. Ed’s tank was blown apart and he was critically wounded by a German bazooka in the town of Kaiserslautern, Germany.
After the war, while he was recovering from his monstrous head wounds, Ed ended up marrying Big Matt’s widow and I was born two years later. But throughout my life, the toughest two days of the year for my parents were D-Day and Christmas Eve. Christmas was always tough on us kids because Mom inevitably retreated to her room and endlessly cried as she re-read all the old love letters that had come through the Army’s V-mail system.
My father always told me, hate the evildoer and have a fire in your belly for rooting out injustice. He hated racial injustice. He hated injustice against the poor, the widows, the handicapped, the religious minorities.
I’ve never gone through the kind of pain and suffering that so badly damaged my family during those years. But it’s probably why I occasionally take up a crusade against the rank rotteness of those who try to abuse their power over others.