April June 2014 073

In my enthusiasm to share my respect and appreciation for those World War II veterans being honored on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I probably went overboard with two long articles, the second one a whopping 1800+ words.

I have been told many times by editors that, in journalism, 700 words is pretty much the max.

Fortunately, I am not a journalist and the media I contribute to have generally been quite tolerant and forgiving.

Nevertheless, 1800 words, plus photos, is way too long and I would not be surprised if many of those who did start reading my piece fell asleep or gave up halfway through it.

Shame, because at the very end I included a couple of photographs and some words about an immensely appropriate and amazingly symbolic sight I stumbled upon at the end of the ceremony I had been attending on the battleship USS Texas in La Porte, Texas.

The occasion was the presentation by the French government of France’s highest honor — the Legion of Honor — to more than 30 American World War II veterans who participated in the D-Day Normandy invasion and/or fought on French soil in one or more campaigns of liberation — days, weeks and months thereafter.

The battleship Texas herself, with her ten 14 in guns had been a powerful and decisive participant in the invasion.

As a matter of fact, one of the recipients of the Legion of Honor was a crewmember who had served and risked his life on the Texas during the Normandy invasion and afterwards.

As I was making my way down the decks of the Texas, my eye caught this beautiful dove perched on the barrel of one of the Texas anti-aircraft artillery guns. I quickly shot several photos before I scared the bird away.

April June 2014 075

While some may see an incongruity in the images of the symbol of peace on a weapon of war, the combination immediately reminded me of that famous phrase and concept, “Peace through strength.” A concept that has been used by leaders throughout history — not just Reagan — but so appropriate to the occasion I had just witnessed: the strength displayed by these ageing (“ageless” is a better word) veterans and hundreds of thousands of other members of the Greatest Generation; the strength that won the (longest) day; the strength that defeated our enemies during that terrible war and brought the world some peace — fragile and fleeting as it turned out to be, but not these heroes’ fault.

There, I said it in less than 400 words.

Now it is your turn — in 400 words, or less. 🙂

Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist
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