Tuesday, May 4, 2010

v35.9: In Memory

Howdy folks,

-slurp-

Today the Royal Canadian Navy celebrates 100 years of service.  The city was all a buzz today as military personnel paraded the streets in their dress uniforms.  The HMCS Fredericton even made it into port early this morning just in time for the celebrations.  It was a proud day not only for all Canadian people, but especially for those who have friends and loved ones who serve, or have served.

-slurp-

My mind drifted to my grandfather a lot today.  Every time I saw someone dressed in their military dress uniform I was reminded of him.  It made me a bit sad but at the same time it made me proud to know he served and fought.  You've all heard the stories of D-Day.  You've probably even seen movies about it and how many lives were lost that day as the allied forces invaded Normandy.  Some of you may even know the date it all took place (June 6, 1944) as over 175,000 troops hit the beaches of Normandy in what was known as the largest amphibious invasion of all time.  It was a victorious day.

-slurp-

What you don't hear about is what happened before D-Day; specifically the night before.  You see, the Germans were prepared for an attack from the sea.  They had mines setup in all the channels and entry points to all the beaches all along the coast of Normandy.  They had some pretty nasty mines, some that would go off if there were vibrations from a passing ship.  Others were just below the surface of the water designed to detonate on impact when the underside of the ship came in contact.  They were dangerous, and unless the waterways could be freed of these mines, there is no doubt that the loss of life on that day would have been greater; maybe even turned the tides in the German's favor allowing them to hold the beaches.

-slurp-

That is where my grandfather came in.  He served in World War II and was there on D-Day.  He wasn't one of the men storming the beaches but he was there ensuring safe passage of the allied boats by clearing away the mines.  The ship he served on was nothing more than a military modified fishing vessel and in that fishing vessel the scoured the channels and waterways along the coast for German mines under the cover of darkness.  Praying... hoping.  Not only were they at the mercy of potential mines they couldn't "see", there was also the threat of German boats and aircraft who were also patrolling the coast.  I recall my grandfather telling me the story of D-Day and how he played his part.  I remember sitting in silence as he told his story, relived his memories and I could see the tears welling up in his eyes as he recalled old friends lost in battle.  He was one of the strongest men I knew and I looked up to him.  I wish he was still here today so I could tell him.

-slurp-

Sometimes I feel guilty for not following in his footsteps.  Maybe it was the stories, or maybe it was the honor but ever since I was in my late teens I always felt this "pull" to serve, to join the Navy and feel like I made a difference; like my grandfather.  I thought about that today as well as I saw the men in women walk by in their military dress uniforms.  Of course I wouldn't trade my life and the things I've accomplished for anything but there is this part of me that wonders "what if?".

-slurp-

Well folks, I apologize for the somber musing today (and for the lateness).  Given the day I feel it was appropriate.

-slurp-

Cheers,

Al