Saturday, June 8, 2013

I stopped to think of D-Day this week… and that stopped me

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I stopped to think of D-Day this week… and that stopped me

This past few days life has been moving at the speed of light. It has been very hard to catch up… and to get caught up. Have you ever had a time like that? It has likely happened because of what has gone on in my head… too much thinking…

It was a deeper time of reflection that I didn’t expect.  Deep thoughts that have made me stop and look carefully at what has happened to me over these years.  Some are good thoughts and fun thoughts… others are deeper, long ago memories that were shared by others with me. ‘I was there when it happened but cannot remember’ – kind of thought.

Now mix into that interaction with vibrant young people. It was my first day of 2013 working as a volunteer with Lang Pioneer Village as the 1856 Carpenter in the Hastie Carpenter Shop.  It was a full day of interacting with Grade Three and Grade Four students from around our area as they poured through the Village on their school trip.

I am 69 years old and quickly picking up speed each week as I whiz toward the 70 year old mark. Whoa!

Boom… it all happened on Thursday…

It hit me hard this time when the thoughts came back – rushing around my thinking.  They started as I watched the new report of the “69th Anniversary of D-Day” took place locally. The students from public schools sat listening to the old soldiers as they related their part of what happened on D-Day on the coast of France 69 years ago – June 6th.  As they tried to help the children help to understand I watched with a deep sense of appreciation as well.

I only remember D-Day from books and stories that I know from people that told me a bit of what happened.

I was 54 days old when it happened.  My Mom and Dad were trying to look after me the best that they could.   They hoped for a brighter future for their son I am sure… but at that moment nothing looked too good for them other couples their age.  There was a War raging somewhere in the World and people were dying by the thousands.

My Dad had just started a new job at the “Industries” in Regina, about an hour’s drive north of where my Mom and I were living in a small farm house, all alone.  It took the better part of a half-day for Dad to travel out to where we were when he had time off.  Working 6 days a week, Monday to Saturday left only one day to see his young wife and be with his new son.  And there were times when he had to work over the weekend – as shift work was part of the work at the “Industries”.

Doing a Google search of the “Regina Industries” I found the following… quote… “Saskatchewan’s largest wartime munitions plant, Regina Wartime Industries Ltd., was based in the former General Motors car assembly plant on Winnipeg St., in Regina. The factory was built in 1927, but closed in 1929 as a result of the poor economic conditions brought about by the GREAT DEPRESSION. During WORLD WAR II, the building was obtained by the Dominion Government and used to manufacture anti-tank gun carriages, Oerlikon gun parts, as well as two-pound anti-tank guns and the famed “six-pounder” anti-tank gun. At the height of the war, Regina Wartime Industries Ltd. employed over 1,000 people, some of whom were reportedly working on a secret weapons project, which was ultimately abandoned with the end of the war.”

As I thought about it all… that week 69 years ago… the worst news ever arrived for my parents and others to hear… there had been about 10,000 casualties for the Allied Troops.

There had been 10,000 German Troops defending that part of occupied France when 175,000 Allied Troops carried out the D Day invasion.

1,465 from the USA had been killed, along with 500 from Canada and 2,700 from Britain in that invasion.

On the other side 9,000 Germans had died in the battle.  And 15,000 to 20,000 French civilians had were murdered by the Germans for helping the Allied forces. ( And (

As I read the numbers this week and then thought of the times and people of 69 years ago… when I was 54 days old… there was little hope that this conflict would be over any too soon. And the separation that my Mom and Dad was not near as bad as what other people were facing that day.

Of the thousands of Canadians that were in the middle of the battle, their families were in agony as there was no news of what was taking place… if their loved one was alive or dead. The dread that must have settled over community was impossible to comprehend.

My life began in the middle of some of the worst times for anyone to live through. What should be a time of great joy and happiness… would not come back for many years to come.

And now in absolute contrast to any of that way of life… I live free… I live easy… I live in complete happiness. I live with only the stories and the memories shared by old soldiers that were there… that saw their buddies and best friends die beside them.

I saw the tear roll down the old man’s face as his words failed him.  I felt so deeply for him that there were no words to share.

SO this week has meant even more for me this year – I stopped to think of D-Day and all the men that were lost.  God help us all.

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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