The Anniversary Of D-Day Always Makes Me Feel Like A Pussy

Today is the 75th anniversary of the most important military operation ever carried out. I’m talking of course about the Allied invasion of Northern France to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation, an operation more commonly referred to as D-Day.

On June 6th 1944, over 150,000 Allied soldiers set foot in Normandy, France via ship and parachute to kill Nazis and save the lives of millions. I mean actual Nazis by the way, not just people that have different political views than you, which is how the term has devolved and is blindly used by idiots today.

When the fighting was over, nearly 4,500 Allied troops were dead, but they completed their objective of entering into France, which would then snowball into it’s liberation and the eventual victory on The Western Front. With that in mind, and as I said in the title, this day never fails to make me feel like a gigantic pussy. Unless you’ve had your boots on the ground and bullets whizzing past your head, you should too.

The reason for why I feel that way is because 75 years ago, people my age and younger were participating in events like D-Day, whereas I get to sit comfortably at a desk for 8 hours, complain about my job, and call it a day.

Like I’m sure many others can relate to, my grandfather fought in World War II. He was a senior in high school when Pearl Harbor happened, and when the news broke, he and a bunch of kids from his would be graduating class dropped out and enlisted. No hesitation. No thinking it over. Just said “Fuck school” and voluntarily enlisted to fight, and possibly die, for our country. I can definitely agree with the “Fuck school” sentiment, but I don’t think I would have had nearly enough balls to say goodbye to everybody I know and love to go fight in a now multi-continent war that was producing mountains of bodies like the fight scenes from the movie 300.

Much to my grandfather’s dismay, he got deployed to Italy. I say much to his dismay because he, and I quote, “Wanted to kill Krauts or Japs, fuck the Italians”. As an Irish guy from Boston, this made sense. He had already been fighting Italians his whole life, so being sent there to continue doing so seemed repetitive.

The comparison between myself at 18 and people like my grandfather at 18 is a large part of why today makes me feel like such a pussy.

When I was 18, I was just smoking weed and drinking with my friends. That’s about it. I had college right around the corner, and I didn’t have a care in the world.

And then there he was at age 18: Fighting fascists (Once again, ACTUAL fascists) to try to stop dictators from taking over the world. The difference is night and day.

As I mentioned earlier, he got orders to fight in Italy. Even crazier is that he was only 17 when he enlisted, and he didn’t turn 18 until he was already on a boat to North Africa to learn how to fight before being sent to Italy. Turning 18 is always a big moment in a boy’s life because you “become a man” so to speak, but for people like my grandfather, saying that would not be hyperbole.

He took part in The Battle Or Monte Cassino, which if you’re a history buff, should perk your ears up a little. It was a devastating battle for both sides, and I guess technically an Allied “Victory”, although it accounted for some of the most lives lost in any Allied campaign during the entire war.

Commanders kept delaying the attack, to the point where my grandfather and his fellow soldiers were read their Final Burial Rights by a priest 5 separate times before the actual battle commenced. Imagine a priest being put in front of you to pretty much say “You guys are more than likely going to die in this battle coming up, but at least you’ll be in Heaven soon!” FIVE different times before even doing your mission. They don’t make people like my grandpa and his friends these days.

Thankfully, whether it was the power of God of sheer luck, my grandfather survived this battle. However, he would never return to the person that started the war.

He got part of his right arm blown off by an enemy mortar, and actually had to play possum for a while when enemy troops rushed their position and combed through the bodies looking for survivors to shoot.

He and a few other troops, severely wounded and dehydrated, then followed The North Star back to an Allied camp south of the city. Although he was alive, he never mentally recovered from his time overseas, and who could fucking blame him?

Instead of succumbing to his injuries, my grandfather made it home, met my grandmother, created my dad, and by extent, created me.

It’s a weird thing to say, but I’m thankful that whatever Italian soldier loaded that mortar was aiming slightly to the left. Had it been a little more to the right, he would have killed my grandfather and I wouldn’t even be here today. Morbid, but also realistic. Plus, based on all of the stories I’ve heard about him, he would appreciate the dark humor.

Unfortunately I have to say “would have” loved my fucked up humor because my grandfather died before I was born so I never got to meet him, but I still consider him the bravest person I’ve ever known.

It’s realizations like this that emphasize why I try extra hard to enjoy today, and every day for that matter. We’re all guilty of taking way too much for granted these days. It’s become too easy to complain about the minor inconveniences in our lives, like traffic or the taste of our coffee. This in turn makes it even easier to completely disregard what sacrifices people had to make before us in order to even have the opportunity to exist in a world where sitting in traffic or drinking shitty coffee is seen as our biggest problems.

The reason why we’re able to enjoy fun days at the beach in 2019 is because of the terrible day at the beach that those brave men had 75 years ago, so thank the fucking Lord for their sacrifice.

I’m no physics major, but it still doesn’t make sense to me how those soldiers weren’t slowed down by the weight of their massive balls.

Either way, we’re eternally in debt to them for answering the call and for being the biggest badasses to ever walk this earth.

They don’t call them The Greatest Generation for nothing, and thank you so much for your service. It was appreciated then, it’s appreciated now, and it will be appreciated forever.

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived” -General George S. Patton

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