Men of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division wade “into the jaws of death,” on D-Day, 72 years ago…
* * * *
World leaders and other dignitaries flew into Normandy to pay tribute to the real VIPs – the veterans themselves – whilst the global media descended on the region in huge numbers as they do every five years.
That article was affiliated with “the UK’s only museum” dedicated to the D-Day Landings,” near the “Southsea Castle in Portsmouth,” England. It included the picture at right, of last year’s “Canopies Over Normandy (#DDay71).” In that “jump:”
British airborne veteran Jock Hutton (89) and American veteran Jim “Pee Wee” Martin (93) both returned to the skies above Normandy. At different ends of the invasion area, both veterans bravely made tandem parachute jumps into the countryside into which they dropped 70 years before.
Closer to home, see D-Day in the United States – Time and Date. That site noted that throughout America, museums and war memorials “host exhibitions featuring photos and film as a tribute to soldiers who were part of the Normandy landings. D-Day memorials and ceremonies are also held to remember these soldiers.” The article also noted that the invasion of Normandy was “one of history’s most significant military attacks.”
I first wrote about the commemoration – and “covenant renewal” – in On D-Day and confession, in 2014. That post compared the kind of “de-briefing” that American fliers got – after their missions – with the concepts of “sin” and “repentance.” But the goal back then was not to make people feel guilty. (As some seem to imply.) Instead they were and are “tools to help us get closer to the target ‘next time out,’ even if we know we can never become ‘perfect.'”
Then came On the DORs for June 6, 2015. (Which included the image at left.) That post noted that June 6, 2015 was a “red letter day, and not just because it’s been 71 years since the best-known D-Day.” And from the Daily Office Readings for that day, I came up with the idea that those 40 years of wandering in the wilderness were a kind of “boot camp.”
(Of the kind necessary for the armed forces to succeed in their mission, 72 years ago…)
That idea was based on Deuteronomy 29, which was both a commemoration – like our remembering D-Day – and a “renewal of the covenant.”
Which by the way, seems to be another function of such celebrations of such long-ago events.
We “renew the covenant” that led thousands upon thousands of perfectly sane men and women to risk their lives for a cause they believed in. And in that effort, those people who fought those battles 72 years ago succeeded largely because they weren’t “rigid.”
Put another way, this is a day to remember that “independent judgment” – not rigid obedience to a pre-formed set of “rules” – is the key to success in life, and especially the spiritual life:
During World War II, German generals often complained that U.S. forces were unpredictable… After the Normandy invasion in 1944, American troops found that their movements were constrained by the thick hedgerows… In response, “Army soldiers invented a mechanism on the fly that they welded onto the front of a tank to cut through hedgerows…” American troops are famous for this kind of individual initiative. It’s a point of pride among officers that the American way of war emphasizes independent judgment in the fog and friction of battle, rather than obedience and rules. (E.A.)
Which is precisely the kind of Bible study I believe in. And that in turn is “just another way of saying that by reading the Bible with an open mind, you’ll be on your way to the creative judgment that overcomes ‘the fog and friction’ of everyday life.”
On a somewhat related subject, this upcoming June 11th will celebrate St. Barnabus. For more on that, see On St. Barnabus’ Day, 2015. That post spoke of Barnabus, the apostle who was open-minded enough to welcome Paul, formerly an enemy of the early Church.
if it hadn’t been for Barnabas and his willingness to give Paul a second chance – a second chance for the formerly zealous persecutor of the early Church – he might never have become Christianity’s most important early convert, if not the “Founder of Christianity.”
“So we might just call Barnabas ‘the Apostle of Second Chances.’”
* * * *
The upper image is courtesy of Normandy landings – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The caption: “Men of the 16th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 1st Infantry Division wade ashore on Omaha Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944.” Clicking on the picture in the Wikipedia article will lead to the attribution: “File: Into the Jaws of Death 23-0455M edit.jpg.”
The lower image is courtesy of Conversion of Paul the Apostle – Wikipedia. The caption: “The Conversion of Saint Paul, a 1600 painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio.” See also What happened on the road to Damascus? That site noted: “The events that happened on the road to Damascus relate not only to the apostle Paul, whose dramatic conversion occurred there, but they also provide a clear picture of the conversion of all people.” (E.A.)