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They were young then, now they would be old men looking across an empty beach, the sun at their back; for many this would be their last day to grow old; dead in the water; dying on the sand of Omaha Beach.
Three long hours smashing through the pounding white capped waves; cold and hard as the water washed over the sides, mumbled prayers mouthed through cracked lips saturated with a salty brine taste.
Bodies were pressed together, brother to brother, clammy breath on your neck, an anvil hammering your chest and hoping the body against you would not taste your fear.
Scorching white flashes of light slashed across the plodding boats, tracers burst bright in the early morning light, twisting a body around, then another crumble, finally the Higgins boat stops......
And the gates of hell open wide to the heavens, making room for the newly departed as bodies stumble over the metal ramp, falling down in a slow-motion dance into the water and drift away, for eternity.
A fifty-pound stone strapped on your back, when suddenly the guy standing next to you is not there, vaporized in a conflagration of redness and matter, an empty vessel flung to the heavens in pieces.
The screams of the wounded horrific, as bullets drive you across a sprawling field of fire. The sand was pockmarked by craters on what should be an early June summer day for frolicking at the beach.
The dead bob in the cherry colored water, and the torn apart want to be any place but here, at this hour, at this time, on this day, praying to heaven to make this hell of exploding shells a dream.
Your name doesn’t matter when you are already dead. The dying dissolve in a burst of machine gun fire before kissing the coarse sand, washed away by the relentlessness of tide and the hour, MIA forever.
The unbroken rat-tat-tat sound as bullets slam into bodies and the boys of summer scream for their Mother and the God of morphine. Bursting landmines scatter a leg fifty yards away and the sand bleeds out red.
The Ghosts behind the graves, brothers in arms, rest in the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer in the quiet French countryside, not far from a place with the All-American sounding name: Omaha Beach.
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