Every year on D-Day I think of my father-in-law. I have written of him before. He seldom spoke of his part in the war. I would never ask, either. You just knew that when he had something to say about the War, he would say it. Otherwise, although he never said so, it seems a topic he would much rather forget.
When he did say something I clung to every word. So over the years I gleaned that he was among the early arrives on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. He saw friends and fellow soldiers die. That was about it for D-Day. Later I found he helped liberate France and fought on into Germany. That was about it. Well, that plus a great R&R trip to Iceland.
However, he would occasionally mention his service in relation to some tidbit he heard on the news. An example would be “I didn’t damn near get killed so the rich bastards could steal us blind. A working guy always gets screwed over.” “ They better not cut the schools, that would be cutting our own throats. Makes me wonder why I fought sometimes.”
This year it seems to really hit home. The insane stance of Republicans in the Iowa legislature refusing to give adequate funding to our schools; state funded universities getting more and more out of reach for the common citizen; our future mortgaged for tax cuts for the rich; jobs sent overseas so some CEO can make millions more; Wall Street crimes go unpunished. I think of all the just plain anti-citizen stuff going on in this country with seeming impunity, sometimes even with the help of the government.
I know shipping good paying jobs to low pay dictatorship countries would really rankle my father-in-law no end. No doubt he would once again wonder out loud, why did he damn near sacrifice his life? Certainly not so the rich could get richer. No, he did it so his kids and grandkids could have good schools, good jobs, opportunity within a democracy where you could be represented.
Seventy-one years later we once again hear Democrats talking like Democrats. Bernie Sanders is forcing issues like jobs, income inequality, infrastructure, schooling up through bachelor’s degree, health care, aging and many others to be brought into the light. Candidates O’Malley and Clinton are adding to the chorus of calls for a return to the American Dream that such soldiers fought and died for.
When we remember D-Day and Omaha Beach and the brave soldiers who fought and died or lived with battle scars physical and mental, think also of the dreams they were fighting for. We must serve their memory by restoring the real American Dream, not just for a few rich, but for every citizen.