On the Today show this morning Tom Brokaw was interviewing some of the last remaining veterans of the historic D-Day invasion 70 years ago.
One told of the first German soldier he encountered and shot. Of how that memory has haunted him since then to now.
Another told a story of extraordinary bravery that he described as “just doing my job I wasn’t trying to be a hero”.
I think Stephen Ambrose in his book “Band of Brothers” captures this lack of self-glorification best in this quote
“In one of his last newsletters, Mike Ranney wrote: “In thinking back on the days of Easy Company, I’m treasuring my remark to a grandson who asked, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’
No,'” I answered, ‘but I served in a company of heroes.”
In contrast to over-paid, over-glorified athletes, movie-stars, musicians and other celebrities of our day these men and others like them deserve our adoration and thanks. They weren’t seeking glory or honor or any other accolades for their accomplishments.
They were just “doing their job”.
As I watched I felt in part the emotion they must have felt as they recounted the events of that day 70 years ago. And I wondered if I were called on would I be able to do what they did?
We must never let the memory of what they did fade away
So today 70 years past I want to thank all of those living and dead for their courage, sacrifice, and willingness to “do your job” just because it needed to be done.
May your example serve future generations. You will not be forgotten.
― Stephen E. Ambrose, Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest