While there are several D-Day stories on television this week (all roads lead to Tom Brokaw) there are few references on social media today, as far as I’ve seen. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that people young enough to connect via social media do not know much about D-Day.
I count myself among those who recognize “Normandy” and “Omaha Beach” and “Saving Private Ryan” but I don’t know 6-6-44 like I know 9-11-01. My heart doesn’t physically tense up when I think about that day.
“That day” was 70 years ago and it was not just a day. The battles continued for months. British Chaplain Leslie Skinner wrote 72 days into the fighting:
“Place absolute shambles. Infantry dead and some Germans lying around. Horrible mess. Fearful job picking up bits and pieces and re-assembling for identification and putting in blankets for burial.”
Fearful job. Bits and pieces. Re-assembling.
This is what chaplains and pastors and all followers of Jesus still do if we are doing it well. Ministry is not always pretty. If we are doing it well, we regularly sit in @%^! with people and it can be terrifying. We seek hope alongside them and they with us. Resurrection often takes on the form of re-assembling bits and pieces of life.
On June 6, 1944, the Allies failed to complete all their goals. There would be more horror and more loss, and yet it was the beginning of a new chapter that would bring peace. This is the best we can hope for sometimes: peace in the (sometimes distant?) future.
I don’t know how to honor those who fought 70 years ago today except in this way: Ponder who in your life needs to be liberated – from depression, addiction, misfortune, loneliness, paralysis, cruelty, misunderstanding, deep grief. And be there. That’s often the best we can do.
And a profound thanks to those who were there in the thick of things 70 years ago today.
Image is called The Fallen by Andy Moss and Jamie Wardley.