Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Your family and D-Day


Monday was the 67th anniversary of D-Day. Melissa Marsh* describes it as “a bloody, horrific, and terrifying day.”

This week the TV news, newspapers, and Internet made, for the most part, only brief, general references to D-Day.

For example, according to Canada Remembers* on Facebook, the Canadian forces’ “courage and skill helped lead the Allied advance and soon, the Canadians had captured three shoreline positions.”

But Melissa reminds us not to settle for brief and general. She urges us to consider real people who experienced D-Day:

“… Sometimes, we need to take a step back and look at the individuals who made this invasion possible—the infantryman, the paratrooper, the tank drivers, the landing boat drivers, and on and on.

“It wasn't just about military strategies and generals and was also about the common soldier.

“It's easy to group these individuals into one entity: the military. But looking at those men's faces reminds us that each one represents a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a sweetheart. Each one had a family, a friend, a wife, a sister, a brother, a daughter, a son, a lover.”

Your relatives probably played a role in D-Day events. Perhaps some served as soldiers while loved ones remained home.

Has your family recorded those stories?

My mother chronicled vivid memories of World War II. She and many women carried out both women’s and men’s work by day and huddled around radios by night, eager for news from the warfront.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, my grandparents, mother, and aunts lived in Ontario, Canada.

On that day, almost every young man my mother knew lost his life.

Almost every boy she dated, almost every boy who pulled a prank on her, went to church picnics with her, flirted with her—gone.

The boys and young men whose pictures fill Mom’s photo albums—almost every one died.

My aunt’s boyfriend might be in this photo. Allwyn was among Canadian troops heading toward shore on D-Day.

In the face of enemy fire, rather than engage in horrors awaiting him on the beach, Allwyn jumped overboard. The boat’s motor blades took his life.

We can only speculate why he jumped. Perhaps he was terrified of being killed.

On the other hand, maybe he recognized he did not want to kill.

What are your family’s stories of D-Day?

If you include D-Day accounts in your memoir, remember: As a memoirist, look for deeper lessons. Pondering, examining, unraveling, musing, wondering, and retrospection are necessary ingredients in memoirs. Looking back, what is your understanding of D-Day’s impact on your family? On you?

If you lost a relative or friend, how did God comfort and provide for those left behind?

If your loved ones returned home, in what ways did God give them protection, courage, and stamina?

How did the experience change their lives? Was their faith strengthened?

Whether or not you lost someone, in what specific ways did God act on behalf of your family?

What lessons can you pass on to your kids and grandkids?

Write your story!

Here are excellent resources for you:

Melissa Marsh has her MA in History with a special interest in World War II. Her blog, The Best of World War II, has photos and a wealth of information.

The World War II Data Base includes photos and information about numerous countries.

For inspirational reading: “The Hardest Decision I Ever Had to Make,” by Erwin A. Thompson, WWII Hero. Who to choose for a dangerous night patrol? And, how to get back alive?

*Since links still aren't working, copy and paste this link to Marsha's blog post about D-Day:

and here's a link to Canada Remembers on Facebook:!/CanadaRemembers


  1. This is an interesting reminder to ask family members about historical events. Your interview questions are great. Thanks.

  2. OliveTree, nice to hear from you. :)

    Events in our grandparents' lives shaped them, and they shaped and impacted our parents, and they in turn impacted us and make us who we are today. We then influence our children and grandchildren. God can use events such as D-Day to form an important family value or attitude that runs through the generations.

    Thanks for stopping by. :)