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Grateful for the Greatest Generation

I am writing this on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allies invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. My dad was in the European theater in WWII and was in a medical unit that followed behind the advancing invasion forces. He was not a physician, but several of his stories deeply influenced my selection of medicine as a career, and plastic surgery as a specialty. Like most of the members of his generation, my father is a quiet man. Although he is a great story teller, he has not been generous with his stories from the war. He has begun to tell me stories more recently, and some are funny, some frightening, and some deeply touching. (And why did I only hear the story about him dodging a buzz bomb a few months ago?)

Last autumn Gary and I had the opportunity to visit Normandy and to walk on the hallowed ground of Omaha Beach. We heard the stories of the invasion and the days and weeks that followed. We stood on the crest of the beachhead imagining the scene on that fateful day. A day where so many young men died in a fight with a moral imperative. The average age of those buried in the U.S. cemetery at the D-Day memorial at Omaha Beach is a mere 24 years old. It was at once sobering and a privilege to stand where they had stood, and where they had also fallen. I do not believe that any visitor to the memorial can leave without feeling the presence of those young men.

US Cemetery at Omaha Bech

Here in Alaska summer is teasing us. May was the most rainy May on record. Wow. Memorial Day weekend was similarly rainy, and this only moderately impacted out Alaskan method of celebration: we plant our flowers on the weekend. By Labor Day the season is well over, so we are all enjoying it as much as we can. The daylight lasts well after midnight. Yard projects and house painting call to us all, and we heed the call.

My thanks to Peter Isackson for the picture of the black bear doing “yard work” and doing dandelion control at JBER. I guess the shot wasn’t staged, but you gotta admit that it is a fun one!

Dagney and Ellie are enjoying the sunshine as we all are. Let’s not waste it. Salmon, s’mores, and sunblock. We’ll see you after Labor Day.