Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian lawyer known worldwide as the leader of Indian Freedom fighters. This goal for freedom and home rule for Indian people was lead by nonviolent passive marches and demonstrations in response to the conflict with Britain and her Colonial Rule.
Gandhi was a very spiritual man who studied the world’s great faith systems and incorporated their teachings into his Hindu faith. This gentle , devout, and kind man has left his impression on the world even today , 71 years after his assassination by a deranged follower. Here is a quote of Gandhi’s under the title of God.
” He is a personal God to those who need His personal presence. He is embodied to those who need His personal touch. He is the purest essence. He simply is to those who have faith.” Mahatma Gandhi
America’s darkest day was 9/11/01. I have heard stories over and over of people, where they were when they heard the news and how the images are seared in their mind’s eye forever. Eighteen years have come and gone in a flash as years do seemingly do. Have you noticed that years fly by and children have children of their own?Have you wondered who old person is staring back at you from the mirror?
But have you also noticed that as fast as years come and go minutes and days can seem an eternity.? Waiting for a diagnoses, waiting for a loved one to leave surgery,thinking you may never have a restful and complete night’s sleep after babies are born?
One of my 9 year old students asked me once why vacations go so fast and school goes so slowly. I told her as far as I could tell, it is a mystery of the universe!
But the purpose of this blog on this memorial of our country’s darkest day is to ask all who read my words to NEVER FORGET September 11,01. . . . 911. . . . . .
As a teacher I often taught connections by discussing how different places, people , things were alike and different. Many people are association learners as I am. The first image is of Letchworth State Park in Wyoming County NY south of Rochester. And the second the Grand Canyon. Both have large holes with rock formation and water flowing through the beautiful formations,
Many people who grew up in central New York have happy memories of camping at Letchworth as a child. There are many camping sites and simple cabins for inside campers. In this natural wonderland is made up of 14000 acres and 66 miles of gorgeous hiking, biking, horse and cross country skiing trails.
To get a different view as you travel wherever the wind blows are Balloons Over Letchworth. This balloon is getting up close and personal at the brink of the middle falls.
Letchworth has been voted #1 State Park 2015 with its 14,000 acres and 66 miles for hiking, biking, horse and cross-country skiing trails. The Genesee River Gorge splints the park in two and can be up to 600 feet deep with three major waterfalls including the 110 foot drop of the Middle Falls. In my opinion both are amazing and worth the trip, but there is a reason why The Grand Canyon is called GRAND!
From the image above of the cast you can see that the story was culturally specific to Chinese people…..death and how it is met as each of us must do. During the film the Chinese culturally accepted approach of keeping the prognoses from the dying person is contrasted with the western way of sharing each and every detail of the upcoming event and approaching suffering.
The film is advertised as a comedy and there are lots of smiles and even polite chuckles . I got the feeling the serious , reserved Chinese don’t belly laugh often or at all but doesn’t mean they are humorless.
For me, thinking of our government negotiating over tariffs with China, it would be fine to learn from them about the celebration of life which is the family’s last gift to their loved one. In this case the matriarch. The eldest son tries to explain the Chinese culture to his daughter who is thoroughly westernized;
“She (your grandma) carried all of us through joy and sorrow. Now it is our turn to carry her through her time of death by shielding her from the truth.
As stated at the beginning of the credits, “This Film Is Based Upon A Lie”. A lie yes, forbidden in all the world’s religions, but a lie told in celebration and love for which forgiveness is given, I hope!
All the days, weeks, and months of training are over. . . . The waiting and training are over. . . the warriors knew for certain as they received live ammunition for the first time.
And President Roosevelt wrote and delivered a special prayer asking God’s blessing on their endeavor.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer
On the night of June 6, 1944, President Roosevelt went on national radio to address the nation for the first time about the Normandy invasion. His speech took the form of a prayer.
The date and timing of the Normandy invasion had been top secret. During a national radio broadcast on June 5 about the Allied liberation of Rome, President Roosevelt made no mention of the Normandy operation, already underway at that time.
When he spoke to the country on June 6, the President felt the need to explain his earlier silence. Shortly before he went on the air, he added several handwritten lines to the opening of his speech that addressed that point. They read: “Last night, when I spoke to you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.”
Text of Radio Address – Prayer on D-Day, June 6, 1944:
“My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
On our way to the vast beaches by Les Gougins in Manche, just north of Utah Beach, we took a small detour to pay our respects in Angoville-au-Plain.
Hidden down ancient lanes long sunk into the Normandy countryside, Angoville is reached by a single track road.
This is a hamlet, not even a village; with a few tidy houses leading up to a well proportioned stone church, set within tended grounds.
A peaceful scene that hides shocking scars still visible from 1944.
On the night of 5/6 June the 101st Airborne division parachuted in behind Utah beach. One objective was to destroy a route essential to the German forces, the Cherbourg to Paris road near tiny Angoville-au-Plain.
Surrounded by the infamous ‘bocage’, a flattened countryside that hid bogs, dips and snipers, Angoville became the centre of intense battle before being briefly captured by the Americans.
Two medics of ‘Screaming Eagle’ 101st Airborne, Robert Wright and Kenneth Moore, with Lieutenant Ed Allworth, quickly went into action setting up an aid station inside the 11th century church at Angoville-au-Plain.
They braved open countryside to search for the injured, taking them back to the church to carry out life saving aid.
The battle intensifies
Shortly afterwards the Americans were forced to withdraw from the village. As the battle intensified Lt Allworth left the medics, aware that as a soldier if he stayed he would endanger the medics, and those in their care.
Kenneth Moore described that first evening:
“By the evening we had 75 of them (wounded personnel and one local infant, in the church). Our own folk had come to tell us that they could not stay any longer. So we we’re left with the wounded. A German Officer soon arrived and asked if I could tend to his wounded too. We accepted. During the night the churchyard was the scene of another battle.
Two of our casualties died. But among those I could tend, none lost their lives. I tended all sorts of wounds, some were skin deep but others were more serious abdominal cases.”
The battle for Angoville-au-Plain raged around the church for three days, with possession lurching back and forth between the two sides.
At one stage German troops forced their way in, but seeing the medics were impartially treating injured from both sides, withdrew and placed the international symbol of medical aid on the church door. The red cross flag.
A mortar hit the building causing further injuries but the medics struggled on. To their shock on 7 June two German observers surrendered to them, after hiding all that time in the church tower!
By 8 June the battle was finally over and Angoville-au-Plain became the established headquarters of Robert F Sink, the officer in command of the 506th PIR Robert and Kenneth had a well earned sleep.
Tributes in Angoville-au-Plain
Today across from the church, like so many villages in once ravaged Normandy, is a war memorial with two flags. One French and one American.
Unusually this memorial is not carved with a long list of dead; it is a celebration of lives saved.
‘In honour and in recognition of Robert E. Wright, Kenneth J. Moore. Medics 2nd Bn 501 PIR 101st Airborne Division. For humane and life saving care rendered to 80 combatants and a child in this church in June 1944.’
Inside the Church the shattered glass has been replaced, thanks to kind donations, and remembers the bravery of 101stAirborne Division. The windows illustrating parachutists, and of course an eagle, are unlike any we have seen before in a Normandy church.
The bloody scars of Angoville-au-Plain
All war leaves scars. Many can be hidden by time, some cannot.
The scars of Angoville-au-Plain are in the church. They are not the bullet holes or the windows showing soldiers and battle. They are the still blood-stained pews that served as hospital beds for 80 brutalised casualties of war.
It is impossible to calculate how many people, then and now, owe their lives to Kenneth and Robert’s bravery.
We do know that for their efforts in saving 80 lives under atrocious conditions, Kenneth and Robert were both awarded the Silver Star.
On my visit to Normandy in July 2017, we walked down the country lane to this unassuming church. The road wound through fields marked with the hedge rows though lovely to see were so daunting to the paratroopers and other warriors making their way through them in June 1944.
As I look back, this church and the tales it holds along with La Friere Bridge are the most meaningful for me. The bridge where my brother Sgt. George Tullidge fought until he was mortally wounded and the church where the brave American medics cared for all in need. . . both Allied and Axis soldiers represent the American spirit of bravery, care and unselfishness giving their all for freedom and justice.