I tried to write about the 70th anniversary of D-Day before the actual anniversary itself a week past Friday. Well I managed it but frankly dear reader I did not foist it upon you. It was muddled, incoherent, meandering.
More than usual.
So I am having another go. And if you are reading this then I must think it’s OK to publish. You may still think it muddled, incoherent and meandering but I can assure you it is better than it was.
6th June, 1944, half past six in the morning…
One hundred and fifty thousand men hit the beach. I say men. What I mean is boys. Just a few short years older than my elder son who still sucks his thumb when he thinks no one is looking as he decompresses after school.
So they were boys. But not just boys. Most had no combat experience.
I say, you there! Yes, you. Jenkins is it? Now look Jenkins, you’ve finished your basic training so now it’s time to take on Jerry and show him what’s what, what?
Got a little job for you. You’re going to invade France from the sea and wipe Jerry off the map. Now hurry along there’s a war on…
And they did it. Five beachheads established. It was the beginning of the end for Jerry.
Four and a half thousand dead.
A remarkably small percentage but a horrific loss. German fatalities were similar in number.
And once Jerry was vanquished, the boys came home. To drive buses. Build roads. Farm the land.
I cannot thank them enough. That’s a clichéd phrase but true – I actually cannot thank them enough.
I sit here in a peaceful, wealthy democracy on a sunny day and I am free to do what I want. And it’s an incredible privilege that even today most people on earth don’t have (and a lot of those who do have it are too fearful to use it).
Our fears definitely expand in both severity and size to fill the headspace we give them but they are not real. Look at that picture at the top of the page. It’s called Into the Jaws of Death. Now that’s worthy of fear. In comparison, I cannot say I have any fears. Not really. Seems self-indulgent.
So the next time I feel like shrinking from what I don’t want to do I will use the example of those 150,000 boys for inspiration and (critically) perspective and I will pull my bloody socks up and get on with it.