D-Day… Today

I feel compelled to put up a post about today, the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, in France. I’m tenuously tied to this in two ways, with a connection between the ties.

My Father fought in World War II, in the China-Burma-India theater.  He enlisted like so many others after his Knob year at the Citadel, in South Carolina.  He finished the war intact and as a Sergeant in the Army Air Corps (later to become the U.S. Air Force).  At the time of his enlistment, the story I’ve heard went like this:

Dad and about four high school buddies met in their Illinois hometown and enlisted.  Dad was fourth in line.  The three friends ahead of him stepped up to the recruiter desk and asked for Navy or Air Corps duty.  They got assigned to the Army, in the Infantry.  Dad, like me, tried to game the situation and strode forward and said, “I’ll take the Infantry, Army.”  He got the Army Air Corps.  Thus, I exist.

One of his buddies from high school, the later county judge, a man by the name of Joe Spitz, drew the regular Army, and the Infantry.  He went on to land on the beach at either Omaha or Utah… I do not know which.  Judge Spitz survived that day, and many after.  My father helped repair and maintain B-17 bombers and other cargo planes that resupplied the Chinese in their ongoing fight against the Japanese invasion of their homeland.  Dad worked out of what was then called Calcutta (Kolkata, now), in India.  I still pore over his tiny wartime paper-backed snapshots of his time there.

Flash forward to close to now.  In 2008, my uncle, my father’s brother, organized a family reunion (Dad died in 1999, while I was in Germany on my tour there).  This reunion day became a shining point in my memory, because I grew up listening to tales of India, my Father’s boxing sparring partner there – Nick Zitarosa – and of the Hon. Joe Spitz.  The reunion went well, and everyone had a great time.  Then Judge Spitz arrived.

My mother tugged at my sleeve and told me Mr. Spitz arrived.  My stomach dropped.  I knew of the Judge’s accomplishments in the war beforehand – how could I not?  I was about to meet a D-Day survivor.  Mr. Spitz shuffled in the door, and he locked eyes with me.  He stuck out  his hand and I took a handful of warm, parchment skin and bone.  I told him, “Sir, it is an honor to meet you, finally.  My Father would have wanted to be here, right now.”

Mr. Spitz nodded, and agreed.  He knew that I served in the Army, and then he thanked me.  I had no idea what to say back to that statement.  I still don’t, and my lack of words shreds my heart to this day.

= = =

Thank you, Dad. I miss you every day since you had to go.  Thank you Judge Spitz, no explanation required for this.  And thank you to all of my Father’s generation who won a peace for us -we who followed.

We attempt, everyday, to live up to what you earned.

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34 Responses to “D-Day… Today”

  1. Excellent and poignant tribute.

    There’s a lovely little news story in England right now about an 89 year old WWII veteran in an old folks home here who wanted to go across to Normandy for the D-Day event yesterday, but last week the home refused to let him go. So he sneaked out and went anyway, joining fellow vets on the beaches of Normandy. The home reported him as missing to the police and he was eventually found in France. I think the whole country is cheering him, and thinking how dare the home say he couldn’t go?!

  2. Melanie Says:

    I have no doubt your father has been the angel on your shoulder walking with you through good times and bad. May his wings forever continue to protect you as you honor his life and memory.

  3. I’m glad you exist and I thank you, your father, Judge Spitz, and everyone who has served and continues to serve.

    P.S. Love the tag “Awesome Family History.” You rock.

  4. We should all appreciate everyone who has ever served. I try my best to show my appreciation for those who do.

    I cannot imagine what it must have been like on the beaches that day. I read the occasion stories from people whose parents were in the war and they always say that they refuse to talk about it, and I can surely understand. I imagine the horror of living through such battles is enough without reliving them afterword.

    Thank you for serving, Rants. I hope I’ve told you that before, and I’m sure I’ll tell you again.

  5. What a sweet and heartwarming story. I send my thank yous to you, your father and Judge Spits for all you have done for this country

  6. Brings to mind all the stories my Dad tells about his time in the RAF while based in Singapore. Lovely piece of writing, Rants. Well done.

  7. As an American I am grateful for your father and men like him who fought and sacrificed for our country all those years ago.

    More importantly, I am grateful to him for passing along his ideals to a son who will continue the honorable tradition of safeguarding our freedom.

    Thank you too, Rants, for honoring your father by following in his footsteps. I am sure he is proud of you.

  8. Nice. I’ve enjoyed following your blog. You write with a voice I appreciate. I share the belief that writing does not improve proportionally with the quantity of words.

    Both my parents were WWII vets; Dad in the Navy and Mom in the Army air Corps as a nurse in Europe. Both are now gone. I have a web-site on my own domain and sell nothing just like you.

    I come to WordPress.com mainly for information and the joy I find when I discover a writer such as yourself. Good job.

  9. We attempt, everyday, to live up to what you earned. So well put Rants! The Canadians figured strongly in the D-Day invasion & I had family who fought in WWII as well. It was strongly promoted in my family to be thankful to those of our family who gave so much so we could have the life we lived!

    • I hear you, Benze. And yes, the Canadian forces contributed materially to our world as it is today, on that day 70 years ago. Thank you, too.

  10. I can only say thank you, all of you.

  11. Now imagine how you would feel if you were a civilian, a lowly re-enactor simply playing at soldier, and a WW2 vet thanked you for keeping his story alive. I’ve had that happen twice. And I was literally struck speechless both times (since you know me, you know what a feat THAT is! 😉 ).
    Though my sweetest memory was walking out of a fairground toilet to bump into a Normandy vet, who looked me up and down (in my German uniform) and said “You look good enough to shoot!”. To which I grinned like the Cheshire cat and said “Thank you VERY much, sir!” I think the poor old guy is STILL shaking his head at that one….
    And of course, thanks to your father and Judge Spitz, and all of them. As a vet said, quoting a favourite T-shirt slogan (from Vietnam, but it works for all wars), “We all gave some. THEY (pointing to the crosses in the Normandy cemetery) gave all.”
    Amen.
    (You might want to stop by my blog. I’ve got a few tidbits of my own for the commemoration.)

  12. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    Very beautifully written!

  13. My thanks to your father, his generation (my father among them) and to you for your service. Wonderful post!

  14. Beautiful story…thanks to you and your dad.

  15. Thank you, Rants. Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for serving. Thank you for helping make sure the world stays as good as it can so my son can live in peaceful times.

    My grandfather went ashore on Utah Beach on D-day. I don’t know any of his stories because he never talked about them. When my parents took us to France several years ago (just after the 50th anniversary), we went to the beaches, saw the remains of the bunkers, the hedgerows, the bomb torn countryside… I fully understood why he never wanted to talk about his time in the war.

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