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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Saturday, Jun 7, 2014

mug_darrylmanzerThere are a lot of events happening this weekend here in the SCV, and I’ve decided to miss many of them. I think my recent trips to Kentucky and other problems have finally taken their toll.

While I think I’m tired, I consider those men who were on the beaches of Normandy 70 years ago today. They had little if any sleep and no hot food. German resistance was still pretty strong with bullets and shellfire all night and day. Those men carried on and eventually liberated Europe.

Current research shows that 2,499 American soldiers were killed on the beaches in Normandy on June 6, 1944. There is still debate about the numbers, but each revelation shows that the number killed increases and additional research is accomplished.

Those men went to war because we had been attacked by Japan and Germany. They gave their lives willingly to preserve us.

Bedford, Va., is a somewhat small town in the rolling hills southwest of Richmond. Today it looks a lot like Newhall did in the 1960s. That little town had sent men off to battle, like any other small town. Bedford nearly lost a whole generation on D-Day. It had the greatest number of men killed on that day than any other town.

ddayToday there is a national memorial to the heroes of June 6, 1944, in Bedford. It was selected as the site because of that casualty rate. Go see it if you’re ever in that area.

Now I know that Memorial Day has passed, but today marks the first full day of liberation of Western Europe. It was a new dawn for Europe and for our country. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten what happened in the past and seem firmly committed to repeat the same mistakes.

I don’t think those men died so that we could have a universal health care system or high-speed, government-run trains. They didn’t give their lives so that huge corporations could ruin the food supply chain with chemicals and genetically modified crops.

Those men ran into the bullets and bombs for an idea. They ran toward freedom. They did it for the idea of “America.”

Americans … you can walk or drive down Main Street in Newhall and encounter a typical cross-section of our population. I like to think that if and when they were called to defend that idea, they would respond as before.

Or would they?

Driving down Newhall Avenue as Hart High was releasing students one day last week made me wonder if those kids would step up and do what those who died on D-Day did.

The war in Afghanistan is the longest war the United States has ever been involved in. Latest figures show that 2,323 Americans have died there – in ten years. Seventy years ago, 2,499 men died in one day. Thousands more would die or be wounded. For an idea. For a cause. For you and me.

I hate war. I hate the thought of war.

We can’t cut and run away.

Freedom isn’t cheap or easy. It is paid for in blood and determination to carry on each day.

It is a heavy price to pay, but we do. We do it because we have to do it.

That is just the way we roll.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Tuesdays and Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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