Unless one was beneath a rock last week it’s likely you heard about the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Right on the heels of Memorial Day it was a reminder of how fortunate we are to have our freedoms. Another side of the Second World War can be shared through the eyes of a Surgeon, a Captain with the 95th Evacuation Hospital attached to the 3rd Infantry Division who had his own D-Day stories.
While we hear of the Normandy Invasion often, it should be noted that The Third Infantry Division landed in Casablanca in ‘42, Salerno in ‘43, Anzio in Jan. ‘44, and St. Tropez in the South of France in Aug. ‘44. Each beach landing was a D-Day. That historical footnote added, what strikes me about the photos taken by this surgeon, the pages of type written logs, and accounts of where the photos were taken; is the intensely human perspective of the war.
Sure there are the occasional photos of a tank, or a crashed fighter plane, yet the vast majority are of the human experience. There are devastated towns with lines of families walking; all their possessions on a cart pulled by oxen. There are piles of rubble with bulldozed roads, not a recognizable building anywhere. There are engineering marvels. Photos of bridges as they are being made from chopped down trees put together by engineers such that convoys and even tanks could cross rivers. As those vehicles roll along; a sign at an intersection where people were lined up with their water tins for cups of water.
A few scattered photos from inside the operating tents during surgery show ‘his job’. More are of the daily toil of being a hospital on the move, with troop ships, jeeps, trucks, and medical vehicles. Photos in the springtime mud of Italy and the frozen mud and snow during the German Ardennes offensive. An occasional photo of smiles, yet through it all there is a penetrating sadness at the tragedy of it all. It’s as if through the lens a singular question is asked over and over “How can this happen?” To me it was astounding to hear his stories in person, and still is spellbinding to see the photos. They are a record of the impactful and tragic turning point in our history through one man’s eyes. He was a kind and industrious soul who was immersed in a cauldron of suffering, while devoting his life to the relief of that very suffering.
So many of our forefathers sacrificed for the lives we now live. In our busy lives gratitude can be elusive at times, but not at this time of year. The simple things we have each day and take for granted, never questioning how it is we can simply go where we want when we want. We get food when we want and visit friends when we want. We were simply born here, they earned it. What I always saw from him and admired was an overwhelming and apparent thankfulness for each day. It is a sublimely simple and beautiful thing to share each day. – Gratitude.
Hi, I’m Tony. I started with Verity in July of 2013, working with CUHMS in the Servicing Department as the Mortgage Servicing Supervisor. I spend much of my free time competing in flying disc sports, mostly freestyle Frisbee these days. I’ve traveled all over the world and most enjoy traveling to anyplace I’ve never been before (of course there are spectacular exceptions). I enjoy photography, art, dance, science, nature, and flying of any sort. Before moving to Seattle a year ago, I lived in San Diego; before that was Miami, with a stop in Gainesville, Florida on the way to San Diego. I became a huge Seahawk fan in 2009 after being a Dolphin fan from the glory days. I fell in love with the astoundingly beautiful country in the Northwest while visiting friends and practicing freestyle over the past few years and finally decided to move in 2010. Now having lived in three of the four corners of the US, I plan on retiring in Maine years from now. Hope you enjoy the writing.