Today is the 71st anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, perhaps the most pivotal battle of World War II. Someone on Reddit said this:
When we think of today, we think of two images. One is the view of a bunch of men running up a beach, and the other is that old man you knew growing up that lived just down the street, and your grandparents. These images are often very separated.
You have to think of that old man, not as some grizzled veteran, but as a boy. Maybe 18, sitting in a small boat. Not some great warship riding the open seas, but a minuscule landing craft in horrid conditions. Bullets flying overhead, wondering if the next will be his. Watching, waiting, hearing artillery sink the boat next to him, full of his friends. His true family that day.
A boy that finally hears the sand crunch as the boat lands, and watches the boat open. Not to a beach, not to a clean video game visage, but to hell itself. He hopes a machine gunner doesn't already have his boat in sight, tearing people apart before they even step out.
He makes it out of that boat, to wade through water that isn't blue or brown, but the red of his friends. To watch as those near him are struck and drown in the water next to him, unable to stop and help, but only run faster towards the hellish landscape. Tank traps, barbed wire, and the cliffs filled with those many thunderous machines rendering his friends to pieces. He runs past the dead, the dying, and the pieces of people he loved.
Boys running straight into hell. Boys that survived this didn't get tomorrow off, they only were given the privilege of more.
Thank your grandparents, your neighbors, and the old man at the VFW. They did this for you.