A dozen or so years ago I went there, walked on Omaha Beach, with my cousin Heydt and his daughter Samantha, and with Martin Lopez. My brother had been there, many times, gunnery officer on an LST that ferried tanks and troops and supplies from England to the coast, and German prisoners back to England. It was only the 6th one launched by the U. S. Navy. Bill’s father-in-law had been in the invasion on Omaha Beach somewhere, and Martin had a cousin, from these parts, who was killed on the third day of the invasion, somewhere in a bit from the coast. We didn’t know of our mutual connections until we got there and for each of us it was a really moving experience—more so than we had expected. And I had lived in France in the mid-fifties.
The navigator on the LST who became Paul’s life-long best friend—Chuck Muscatine ended up in these parts after a PhD from Yale and became Cal’s, and the language world’s, leading Chaucer scholar, and one of the country’s leading educational reformers. Determined to make good education available to everyone. And when I ended up out here, with his wife Doris—became very good friends to me. I think of all of them—Paul and Chuck in the first invasion of North Africa, then the coast of Egypt, then the invasion of Sicily, and then on the beach at Anzio being shelled from Monte Casino, then the southern coast of France, and then D-Day. None of them was close even to being 25 yet.
I remember it here, showing my age, but it is still important to me. And it also reminds me of a time when the people leading this country, with all their flaws, were patriotic and honorable: virtues not present in any evident way these days.
There are more parts to this note, but my computer tells me to send this off and then start again, or it will all disappear.