Old Glory Goes to Half-mast at Soldiers and Sailors 75 Years after D-Day
A holiday, the opening shot of summer, and a day to remember the fallen and our veterans.
Terence Hanrahan shared these two photographs from the nearby service in honor of our veterans today. And it got me thinking.
I've always had a thing for Memorial Day. It brings out the Main Street USA in all of us compelling young and old to stop and reflect. This year, it struck me as inconceivable that D-Day was 75 years ago. A VA estimate calculated nearly half a million WW2 vets are alive. That, too, is an incredible number, given it's out of more than the 16 Million who were enlisted. Those with personal knowledge of the combat are rarer than ever.
When I was 11, I met a middle-aged visitor who, I was told, was my cousin and had been taken prisoner and survived a concentration camp. It was hard for me to understand how this dashing foreigner with his exotic accent could be related, much less a survivor of something I couldn't much comprehend. (He was in fact my grandmother's first cousin and hence my first cousin twice removed thanks to the two generations separating us). Over the years, I learned much more, not all good.
Family memories have probably garbled information that was passed to me, but the name of Texan Jack Williams looms large in my mind today. I was told by a great aunt that Williams was a 1st Commander in the 6th Infantry Division of the US Third Army led by General George S. Patton; the division was the liberating force at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Williams was put in charge of the Buchenwald refugees. Those refugees weren't at the camp when it was liberated because they'd been forced on a death march in advance of the US arrival by skittish guards who feared for their lives knowing Patton was upon them. In those confusing days after the camp's liberation, Jack Williams was good to my great, great uncle and his son in some of their harshest hours, Hungarian survivors of the war. To them, America was the greatest nation on earth.
For Memorial Day 2019, I find myself remembering all this, thinking of Jack Williams and the people in his division, all sparked by these photos of our neighborhood's commemorations.