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Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014
The Longest DaysPosted Monday, May 30, 2011, at 12:00 PM
No one planned it. The coalition of dates is a purely coincidental product of times and people born and died generations apart. It is, however, intriguing that Memorial Day, set aside to honor our fallen, and D-Day, the day of the world's greatest single battle, come in such proximity.
On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched some 5,000 vessels carrying 160,000 troops in the largest amphibious assault that ever, or will ever happen in human history. Everyone knew they were coming, no one knew where they were going. Of only one battle is it said America lost more men, Gettysburg.
In my now 15 years living in Indiana, I have had the privilege of meeting three men who went ashore at Normandy, France in those long days of June, 1944.
The first was Bob Moore, who was owner-director of Moore Funeral Home when I knew him. Bob knew everyone in and everything about Clay County, remembered them and it all, and was always a man you could go to learn.
His son, Rob Moore, sent me this information about his father's service in France:
"Dad was part of a large field hospital -- he worked in the lab as a lab technician. His field hospital was sent in to Normandy the day after the initial invasion, but hit a mine and sank. He worked in small aid units until another field hospital could be shipped across the Channel to Normandy. They moved across France with the Allied forces. He ended up working in a field hospital the U.S. Army had set-up in a large church on a hill in Belgium. During the Battle of the Bulge, they could look out the windows of the church and down on the road that split and went around the hill where they watched German forces first move forward, and then back as they retreated."
The second man was also someone you'd never think a soldier, Norman J. Hunt, PhD. A more unassuming, gentler man it would be hard to imagine. If the simile can be borne, he is one of the most beautiful men I've ever met.
A May 2004, article in The Brazil Times well summed up Norman Hunt, saying in part:
"Today, Norman Hunt, Ph.D., a retired professor of psychology, is a man of slight build and white hair. He is a gentleman in the old-fashioned and best sense of the word, a gentleman made, not broken, by his D-Day experience." [www.thebraziltimes.com/story/1241017.html]
The last man, whom I never actually met other than his presentation at a History Society meeting, was Warren Nicosin of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne. As it is with old soldiers, vivid memory of those long days -- slight doubt was ever that young. If you want to know of such men, next time it is on TV watch the series called "Band of Brothers" about Easy Company. Niscosin was among those involved in securing Berchtesgarden, Hitler's mountain hideaway. He brought home a Nazi flag from "the wolf's lair" which is on display at the History Society Museum in Brazil.
No one planned it. The progression of dates is a purely coincidental product of times and people born and died generations apart. It is, however, intriguing that Memorial Day, set aside to honor our fallen, and D-Day, the day of the world's greatest single battle, come in such proximity. Maybe it is so in order to assure we not forget that not all are men of war who live and die on the longest days; but all who serve, serve.
NOTE: Computer Central in Brazil continues to help salute local active service men and women with a window display. If you know of someone who should be saluted, drop off their photo or send to e-mail below.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.