Monday, June 6, 2011

D-Day at 67

67 years ago in the early morning hours of June 6 after a weather delay members of the 82nd and 101st Airborne were jumping out of planes scattered all over Normandy while 5000 ships were on a seasick inducing ride to five beaches in Normandy--Utah,Omaha, Sword, Juno and Gold to begin the assualt on the Atlantic Wall. One's bucket list should include a trip to the beaches of Normandy, Pointe du Hoc and the American Cemetary. As a student in France, in great shape in 1966 I visited those is hard to imagine the courage of those GIs wet cold miserable watching their comrades being shot all around them who on that day breached the Atlantic wall. While the Great Generation still lives in diminishing numbers honor them today in how you exercise your freedoms an installment of which was paid in blood.

It has been 67 years since on a June day the Channel was once again breached
Both from the air in morning night and by thousands on heaving Higgins seeking the beach
Not a mere raid with more Canadian bodies to leave in bloody retreat
But five divisions to land at the Atlantic Wall as a final step in Hitler’s defeat
Our warriors are today in the last days of winter’s coming grip
Thick glasses, artificial joints, canes walking slowly to not fall or slip
The horror of all horrors to assault a well defended, waiting beach
Not knowing whether this would be the morning that the evening you would not reach
For over four years the Germans had the time to a deadly welcome prepare
A host of 88’s and “buzz saws” to hurl against khakis bare
Mines by the millions to rip the Higgins and gliders apart
Green seasick faces now climbing down the nets to depart
When the dust had cleared and fighting ended late, late at night
Almost 5,000 young men were laid low by the Dark Boatman’s fatal bite.
Never again no matter what is mankind’s military course
Will we ever see such a gathering of men and armada force
But heroes we will as a nation continue to breed!
Forces of terror should listen and so take heed!
The genes that climbed the Pointe du Hoc’s vertical cliffs
Or Dutch Cota armed with a cigar giving his troops a lift
Or the All Americans landing in Ste. Mere Eglise spires
Or the destroyers almost ashore point blank at the pill boxes fire
Still run deep in the generations from those warriors of June 6, 1944
Joined now by women and all with courage and brains to settle any score
We have been blessed with the warriors and heroes of that day
The forces of evil in Europe finally stopped and held at bay
More so we are still blessed that their spirits still live
In the hearts of those in uniform today a final sacrifice prepared to give
The Sun on the British Empire may after many years now daily sets
But on those forces against the evil terrors, the shadows are nowhere near yet. (c) June 5, 2011
Michael P. Ridley aka The Alaskanpoet