I decided to research purchasing a zero gravity chair to ease my back pain. As I was scrolling options on my iPhone, my husband turned on PBS to watch a D-Day documentary. This week is the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. I realized within about three minutes of the show’s start that I am woefully under-educated about World War II and its critical battles. So I turned my research from the chair to the Normandy invasion.
I am embarrassed I didn’t even know what the term D-Day meant. I know I have used the term, and I am sure I acted as though I knew its significance. Well, now I know that D-Day is a military term that signifies the date a combat operation begins. And D-Day for most Americans represents June 6, 1944, when the largest seaborne invasion in history occurred. The allied forces began planning the mission in 1943, recognizing the degree of difficulty associated with taking back France from Nazi control in an area of 50 miles of beaches and cliffs. The allied forces had to wait for the tide at sea to be as low as possible in order to avoid the fortifications – big, ugly steel contraptions designed to sink incoming battle ships. However, because the sea level was low, when the allied forces left their ships, they had to run far further to get to shore all the while being pummeled with Nazi artillery from the cliffs, and navigating perilous stakes, barbed wire and other obstacles. The Nazis didn’t believe the U.S. Army Rangers would be fierce enough to scale 100-foot cliffs that lined the shore, but they did so, again while under heavy gunfire from the Nazis shooting from above.
While the Normandy invasion laid the foundations for allied victory, the allied troops lost over 4,400 men, and suffered 6,000 other casualties. As a mother, I think about the fear my great-grandmother must have had in sending two of her three sons to war. My understanding is her third son was allowed to stay home to continue the family name should the two other sons die. I know my great-grandmother must have had enormous pride, but for me, I don’t believe I would have had the courage to send my sons to war. Research indicates most of the men who fought at the Normandy invasion knew they were going to die, yet they went forward anyway. And for those who died, their bodies remain in a French cemetery. To lose a child and then learn their remains would never be returned home is an unfathomable consequence for most mothers.
After doing my research, the zero gravity chair purchase seems trivial. So, I’m donating to America’s Gold Star Families instead. Please join me.
Tammi Fisher is an attorney and former mayor of Kalispell.