D-Day + 76 Years

Flight Before Dawn Vow of Gold
Tomorrow is D-Day + 76 Years. In the beginning, after the Allies landed in France, D-Day (June 6, 1944) had days added onto it. D-Day + 5, D-Day + 19, and so forth. We remember D-Day still, because it was such an important turning point in the war, an important inflection toward victory and freedom and the end of tyranny’s rule in Nazi Europe.

Usually, I talk about my first novel at this time of year: Flight Before Dawn. It tells the story of the French Resistance. In it, you meet Victoire. She’s in Normandy and longing (and helping achieve) D-Day. Another of my novels set in WWII is Vow of Gold. In it, you meet Kenneth Porter. He’s an American soldier sent to England during the war, before going on to Italy, and he happens to be black. Lillian, an English secretary in the book, working for Graham Doyle (a central character) finds herself smitten with Kenneth. He’s confused by this. He’s used to a different kind of treatment back home. Although Kenneth was not at D-Day, other real soldiers like him were.
I write about the past, or at least it’s supposed to be the past. But, sometimes, it feels closer. In my upcoming novel I write about someone remembering when people, “spoke of world events, when things that had happened long ago seemed to be happening again. The past seemed closer then, as if walking beside us, instead of on some distant hill.”
The shores of Normandy seem closer to me at this time of year, no longer on a distant hill. And so, too, do the words I found in this poem.

Written in 1943, by Langston Hughes, this captures the feelings of soldiers who bravely fought for America, and for freedom for the world, even when they at times received injustice at home. It feels appropriate, especially for this D-Day. It’s a poem that my character Kenneth might have identified with.
Beaumont to Detroit: 1943
Looky here, America
What you done done–
Let things drift
Until the riots come.
Now your policemen
Let your mobs run free
I reckon you don’t care
Nothing about me.
You tell me that hitler
Is a mighty bad man.
I guess he took lessons
from the ku klux klan.
You tell me mussolini’s
Got an evil heart.
Well, it mus-a been in Beaumont
That he had his start–
Cause everything that hitler
And mussolini do,
Negroes get the same
Treatment from you.
You jim crowed me
Before hitler rose to power–
And you’re STILL jim crowing me
Right now, this very hour.
Yet you say we’re fighting
For democracy.
Then why don’t democracy
Include me?
I ask you this question
Cause I want to know
How long I got to fight
On this D-Day +76 years, I’m remembering all those soldiers and civilians who fought for freedom and peace, and especially the ones who didn’t enjoy its full measure at home.

My best to you all,

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