I have been thinking today about this 71st anniversary of the D Day landings on the beaches of Normandy, June 6, 1944, and I’ve spent a lot of time reading social media posts about it.
One conversation with Jeff Anderson got me thinking.
Now, when the D Day scenes in Saving Private Ryan were shown to men who were there, it was so realistic to them that many of them walked out. But today I am struck by thoughts of the whole sensory experience –
The deafening sounds of incoming and outgoing gunfire
The sounds of the wounded
The sounds of the overwhelmed
The smells – of seawater, of blood, of exhaust, of burned gunpowder
More than that, though, I am struck by the fear, and thoughts of how I would react.
Like most people, I have had some experience with fear in my life. I know that feeling, that almost sickening feeling, and that urge to freeze. I have come to know, however, that if I am trained on the situation at hand, no matter how much fear I feel, I will be okay. (Well, I will be a lot better off than if I am not trained, any way.)
I have faced situations where I have, shall we say, not reacted optimally in the face of fear. I have frozen, either physically or emotionally, and I have been of little or no use to those around me. I regret those times.
But there are times when I have been in fearful situations where I have been trained in how to respond, and I have done so, rather well, in my opinion.
In truth, this should not be surprising. After all, even the Boy Scouts knew this, when they taught me to Be Prepared. And that, after all, is why we train.
So the difference for me comes down to training, to Being Prepared. The men on the beaches of Normandy were Prepared, and they responded with valor and determination. And that made all the difference.
For me, I take this remembrance of D Day, the thoughts of the fear those men faced, as an added resolve to seek more training, not just in the situations where it would seem obvious that training is needed, but in situations less obvious – carjackings, home invasions, mass shootings. Because I know, for me, that will make all the difference.