This past weekend I traveled to northern France to visit Normandy. For most people, this is just a place where an invasion called D-Day took place. To me it's something a little special. Seventy years ago, this is the place where my grandfather (Lt. Julian R. Sheehy) landed along with thousands of other young soldiers to complete a job that their country asked them to do. As they landed, the Nazis sat waiting for them. As the boats landed, thousand of young soldiers were mowed down by heavy machine gun fire. Some didn't even make it out of the boats. After the landing was complete, thousands of young soldiers lost their lives while trying to preserve freedom for Europe and the rest of the world.
My grandfather was an exception. By some miracle, he was able to make it out of the boat, cross the beach and survived the landing. Was it courage, was it instincts or was it a job he was asked to do and he did it without any questions? I don't know. What I do know is that he was a million times braver that I could ever be. He left his family and traveled over 3,000 miles to do something amazing. I can honestly say that I don't think I could do it.
Growing up, I used to hate going to visit my grandparents in Florida. It was far, their house was always 80 F/ 26 C and my grandfather always seemed mean. Have you seen the Clint Eastwood movie Grand Torino? That character was exactly like my grandfather. But as I got older, I realize how much of an amazing person he was. In the end, he received a few Purple Hearts and survived one of the bloodiest wars ever. I never go to ask him about it, but I would have loved to heard his amazing story of survival.
Shall we never forget what happened and never forget the men and women who sacrificed their lives so others could live in a free world. As I travel around Europe, it's absolutely crazy what went on here and ever more crazy that so many innocent people lost their lives.