Celebration of a Hero’s Too Short Life

July 4, 2017 is an Independence Day we will never forget.  That is why I chose it.  All eleven of the the family were in Cambridge UK at the American Cemetery  to celebrate the life of my oldest brother George, a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division,  who jumped in the early hours of June 6, 1944. He  was  wounded at the battle for La Fiere Bridge in Normandy, and died on the ship back to England.  He was 20 years young.  I was not born until two years after his death.    As the last of my immediate family, I feel a responsibility to pass this story of our family’s hero to my children and their children.  I heard the other day that it takes 3 generations to forget history.  I am doing all I can to insure that my grandchildren will both  know and remember our history.

I have quite a few tales to tell as I share the steps my family took starting in Normandy and then to Cambridge. I hope this will encourage each of my readers to keep their own   heroes   and everyday  family  members and their stories alive by  repeating tales to  family today, recording,  and preserving them  for the generations to come.

Peace

http://www.AParatroopersFaith.org     Visit  to learn more.

 

 

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October After 9/11/01, A Different New York

Here is the rest of my 9/11 story which seems as relevant to me today as it was in real time.

TalesAlongTheWay

This is history, and  I think meaningful, at least to me. There are so many challenges we are going through today, similar to these days in October 2001. 

In October, 2001, I had two visits to New York. The first was a school  trip I had organized for families to the Bronx Zoo.  zoo_591

It was a Saturday and the bus was ordered,  all the money was collected, and no one was cancelling, so we went. It is a wonderful zoo set in acres and acres of an English landscape garden site.  I had gone there many times with my children and school children. It is not the San Diego Zoo, which has the reputation as the best zoo in the world, and I will not argue with that.  The Bronx Zoo can be  described in many ways, but that day…

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9/11/01 Fifteen Years Later 9/11/16

Another year has passed and it is now it is 16 years ago. Though maybe not as clear,my memory was jerked back as I saw the images and remembered. I always retold this story to my students on 9/11, my precious Arizona kids. I feel it is imperative that we not forget this life changing day. There are many new followers to my blog since last year, so this reblog is for you.

TalesAlongTheWay

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It was a  Tuesday and a crystal clear fall morning, September 11, 2001.  My sixth graders were in art first period, and I was doing planning for the week. The principal  popped in and  said, “Turn on your TV!”  Seeing  the now famous images hit me like a ton of bricks, as well as disbelief. My head was swimming, filled with questions, and I was dizzy with it all.  Hurrying down to collect my class, another thought hit even closer to home.  My son and daughter-in-law live in New York.  Are they safe…out of harms way?  Neither of them worked in the WTC, but the  nature of the city and the world’s business is that people are out and about having meetings all over.   I ran to get my phone and got a busy signal!  A few minutes later, I tried again…busy …still.  This happened over and over.  These…

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Because They Love Us and We Them

This  elegant German Shepherd touches my heart.  You can see her sadness and confusion in being unable to  guard and protect her friend.  German Shepherds are so loyal and loving to their people and especially their person. It is very special love ! My forever dog friend was a German Shepherd, Huskie, Collie mix whom the vet said looked like a gray wolf. Thelma  adored me, even lying at my feet as I dried my hair with her paw over one of my feet. We were holding hands!  She was forever protecting me! It was years and years ago but the thoughts bring tears to my eyes.

I totally understand  these victims protecting their pets by trying to  carry them to higher, safer ground.

I  heard flood victim tell the story of putting bowls and bowls  of  food and water in his attic for his two  dogs until he could return and collect them.  And guess what?  He did and carried them to safety.

I also learned about hungry pets at ConsernsU the pantry where I volunteer. I have to admit that I was surprised when we had pet food available for our clients ‘  pet  needs.  Of course these dear people  are having trouble feeding themselves and their families as well as their pets. I was told that when things get absolutely at their end of caring for their pets, the owners will open the door and put the pets outside to fend for themselves, by giving them a chance to survive. They hope  above hope that there is something nearby  that is pet edible.  Obviously,  It is preferable for SPCA and other shelters to provide food for pets  of poor people rather than have them running feral in the streets.

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If I have time, I often put 3 large scoops of food in a plastic bag ready to be distributed.

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I would be thrilled if as a result of this post  that some of you would add pet food to your pantry donations and pantries would consider  providing pet food to their supplies.

“Because They Love Us and We Them”

 

 

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Eglise A’ Angoville au Plain

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This unassuming country church was  one of the most memorable of our trip. We walked  from our  accommodations at  http://www.domaine-airborne.com/domaine-airborne/. There was a narrow windy road with the hedgerows twisting with no apparent plan through the fields where on the early morning of June 6, 1944 our brave boys of the 101 Airborne landed in this place.  It was a fierce fight.  Dogs were barking, cattle were grazing and we enjoyed this pastoral sight and walk through this place of memories.

As we rounded a corner the church appeared we were approaching without the full affect of the suffering and sacrifice  in this place.

Medic Ken Moore dead at 90 

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“In the middle of one of World War II‘s bloodiest battles — the 1944 D-Day invasion of western Europe — there was a small sanctuary where no fighting was permitted.

Inside a village church in France, two Army medics — Ken Moore and Bob Wright — cared for dozens of wounded soldiers, using the pews as makeshift beds. Mortar blasts rocked the building, but the medics refused to leave, even when told enemy forces were about to overrun the village.

With scant supplies, they stayed on to administer aid in the packed church, and not just to Americans. They also treated wounded German soldiers who came to the door seeking help.

“They were young men much like us,” Moore said in the documentary “Eagles of Mercy,” “except they were wearing a different uniform.”

Moore, 90, died Dec. 7 in a hospital in Sonoma, Calif. The cause was congestive heart failure, said his son, Francis.

The stone church, located in the village of Angoville-au-Plain, commemorates the medics’ actions with a monument on the edge of an adjoining cemetery.

Moore said in the 2013 public television documentary that he was astonished “Bob and I, just a couple of privates in the service,” received such honors. But Daniel Hamchin, the village mayor, said their role pointed out the dichotomy of that day for soldiers.

“They would kill each other in the cemetery,” Hamchin said, “and they would heal each other in the church.”

Kenneth Jack Moore was born Nov. 5, 1924, in Los Angeles. He was raised by a single mother and graduated from high school in Redding. Soon after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor he joined his buddies in enlisting.

“We assumed it would take a few weeks to finish off the Japanese,” he told the Toronto Star this year.

Moore volunteered to be a paratrooper and was chosen to be a medic, although he got only about two weeks of medical training.

He didn’t see any combat until D-Day, June 6, 1944, when he was one of thousands of troops parachuted into France. As a medic, he carried medical supplies, but no weapon.

Hitting the ground, he was quickly under fire. “There’s no substitute for hearing a bullet snap past your head, and you realize that someone is trying to kill you,” he said in the film. “You can’t explain or put into words how that feels, but it forever changes you.”

He and Wright, who died last year, commandeered the 12th century church, designating it as an aid station by hanging a Red Cross banner outside. Wright had more medical training than Moore, but their expertise was limited.

“Our training and our job essentially was to stop the bleeding,” Moore said in the film, “and administer morphine for pain and bandage up the casualties as best we could.”

Wright instituted an order that all rifles had to be left outside the door and the injured began streaming in, by themselves or with the help of others. As the wooden pews started to fill, the medics designated an area near the alter for critically injured soldiers they couldn’t much help.

With Wright taking on the bulk of medical duties, Moore sometimes ventured outside to haul injured soldiers to the church in a cart found nearby. This time, with his Red Cross arm band in full view, he didn’t take fire.

“The Germans were pretty good about not shooting at medics,” he said. “There were several times they could have shot me, and they didn’t.”

At times, the battle raged so close that the building shook violently, blowing out the windows. A mortar shell that came through the roof didn’t explode, but when a chunk of the ceiling came down, it smacked Moore in the head, causing him to bleed. “That’s when I got my Purple Heart,” he said. “I was embarrassed to take it.”

According to the Geneva Convention treaty, signed by the U.S. in 1882, soldiers wounded in battle were to receive aid by medics regardless of which side they were on. The rule was strictly applied inside the church, with Germans getting aid alongside Americans. “I don’t recall any real animosity being expressed,” Moore said.

U.S. soldiers rushed in at one point to say they couldn’t hold the town and they recommended that at least one of the medics fall back with them. But by then, the church was so packed with wounded that blood was leaking onto the floor as well as the pews. “Bob and I looked at each other,” Moore said, “and said, ‘We better both stay.'”

Tense moments followed as the enemy took the area and German soldiers with machine guns came into the church. But seeing Germans and Americans both being treated, they left without incident.

The next day, with Americans again in charge of the area, the situation eased and eventually the aid station was dismantled. In all, Moore and Wright treated more than 80 soldiers, including about a dozen Germans. They were awarded Silver Star medals for their actions, and both served in other battles, including the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war, Moore returned to California and worked for the Chevron oil company as an area representative. He eventually owned several gas stations of his own until the mid-1980s when back problems forced him into retirement.

He occasionally returned to Angoville-au-Plain, where bloodstains can still be seen in the church pews, for ceremonies commemorating his and Wright’s actions on D-Day.

“I think the reason it’s gotten attention now is that we weren’t involved in killing, we weren’t trigger pullers,” he said in the film. “I tell my grandchildren that my role in the war was sort of as an observer. I wasn’t a rifleman killing people, and I was there in one of the big historical events of our century.”

In addition to his son Francis, who lives in San Francisco, Moore is survived by five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.”

Twitter @davidcolker

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

Entering the the poorly cared for church,  chills took over in spite of  the  balmy Normandy  summer day. Maybe it was the suffering, the blood, the story of humanity in the midst of war or the young soldiers of the tender  years in different  uniforms. . . .but it was there.  The first eye catching element was the stained glass window of the  American Paratrooper just before landing.Related image

 

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The interior is simple and bear  compared to the churches we visited in Paris.  During the thick of the battle for the nearby village, two American medics Bob Wright and Ken Moore went to work doing their job of stopping bleeding and trying to save lives as  they cared for German as well as American wounded. They insisted that all weapons be left at the door.  There were little supplies and obviously no beds but the aisle was a natural divider .

The pews were used as beds with Germans on one side and the Americans on the other side. The young medics moved between the wounded caring for each who was  in distress. The stained pews remain today for anyone to see and remember this day in the life of brave soldier medics. Thank you Bob Wright.  Thank you Ken Moore.  Two ordinary American boys , heroes to us all.

Thank you for the demonstration of humanity in the midst of war!

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Posted in American history, Architecture, Eric Labourdette, France, history, paratooper, Religions of the World, Travel, Uncategorized, WWII | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Music Monday . . . . Steely Dan

Walter Becker Dead

Walter Becker, Steely Dan Guitarist, Dies at 67

This is the tribute letter written by Donald Fagan, the sole surviving creator  of the group.

We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.

Walter had a very rough childhood — I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.

His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while. In the eighties, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band.

I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.

Donald Fagen

September 3 2017

 

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Helping the Helpless

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About two weeks ago, I saw Dunkirk  the story of  the Allied forces trapped on the beach in France  as sitting ducks for  German guns.  They were trapped with no hope or help in  sight because no  large ships were  available from England to provide a safe haven. There is a very moving scene in the film were the horizon is filled with a line of small boats, fishing, yachts and a sundry of others which needed only to float.  The word had gotten out  in England that their boys were trapped. . .  . .400,000 of them and the ordinary everyday Englishmen instantly went without a thought for their own safety. The image above shows  the rescue of the soldiers of Dunkirk.  I wish I could show you the image in my mind that you will see if you go to see Dunkirk.

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Ah, and this week the  Cajun Armada  made up of row boats, canoes, motorboats moving in to help with evacuation in Texas.  I am reminded of  “history repeating itself” and am glad  there are still some heroes willing to put their lives  as in the  Dunkirk evacuation. Ordinary citizens loving their neighbors giving solace , protection and water. What a trans-formative event this could be for the division and hatred that has filled the  images on the news  before the flood.  These dear souls  saved people with no concern for   person, religion, color and creed, an example for us all to follow!

Let it be !

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Texas Will Survive

 (Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images)

Gloria Gaynor is dedicating a new version of the original survival anthem ‘I Will Survive’ to all her ‘neighbors in Texas’ who are enduring unprecedented flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Gaynor tweeted out ‘Texas Will Survive’ Wednesday evening with the updated lyrics.

At first we were afraid, we were petrified,
Kept thinking Texas couldn’t live in flood waters this high.

We know you spent plenty of time preparing for this hurricane,
Who could have known that it would come with so much devastating rain?

But, we will strive. And you’ll survive.
With all our love and help and prayers,
We will stand strongly by your side.

We are your neighbors, tried and true,
And we’ll do all we can for you.

And you’ll survive.
You will survive.

You will survive.

Gloria Gaynor’s iconic song “I Will Survive” is one of personal empowerment and overcoming adversity. The revised version of “Texas Will Survive” has touched the hearts of the survivors in the Texas  floods and the population across the country who are donating time and  treasure to aid our suffering neighbors. The message has grown to     unify to  care for the suffering of our neighbors. It has been noted that the death toll would be much higher than the actual 39 if all the volunteers  had not come to the rescue in Houston. ( The death toll in Katrina was 2000.)

This is the American spirit I know and love.   Doesn’t it make you  feel encouraged that we can Make America Great Again?

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