Today is the 75thanniversary of D-Day. I’ve been watching and listening to the television coverage, thankful that I get to see the ceremonies. I marvel at the courage of those young men—boys really—who jumped into those landing crafts, knowing they stood a good chance of being killed. The tributes from dignitaries have told their stories far better than I can. But as I listen to these remarkable stories I can’t help but think about those who waited at home.
They didn’t have 24-hour television news. They had radios and they watched newsreels at the movies. What was it like to listen to the radio coverage and wonder if your son, husband, brother, or neighbor was on those beaches? Those who waited also made great sacrifices. I think of those of the World War I generation like my grandparents. They knew about war first hand, having endured “the war to end all wars.” And now they were called to offer up their sons. I remember my grandmother telling me that all the boys who went to war came home changed. How could they not be changed? My grandmother knew if her sons came home, they would be different.
Her generation waited. John Milton said it best: “They also serve who only stand and wait.” But while they waited they prayed, they served in USOs, they clipped ration coupons, some went to work, and they waited for letters to let them know their loved ones were still alive. I think of my paternal grandmother, a widow with only one living child, my father who went to war at eighteen. She sacrificed. I think of my mom’s mother who had one son in Europe, another in the Pacific, and a daughter who waited for word of her young husband. The waiting must have been agonizing. Although technically not a part of the Greatest Generation, they too were great. They were called upon to be brave, and if necessary, to make the ultimate sacrifice of their children. So to those who waited, I also say thank you for your sacrifice.
Today is a day to remember, but to also pray. As I offer a prayer of gratitude to God for deliverance from evil, I also pray for our world, that we may never do this again. I pray for peace and freedom, but I know that peace and freedom come with a high cost. Just ask those who waited.