Monday, June 6, 2011

D-Day Remembrance

Today, June 6, is the anniversary of the invasion of Europe, and by chance I was in a high school about to begin a presentation about my parents and their experiences in the Nazi concentration camps when an announcement came on asking the students in the school to remember the anniversary of D-Day.

As the speaker talked about what D-Day was, I thought about all that day meant to me, my parents' long years as Polish forced laborers in Nazi Germany, the refugee camps after the war, the family killed and left behind, our coming to the US as DPs.

When the announcement ended, I began my presentation with a poem about my father's liberation from the camps. Here's the poem:

In the Spring the War Ended

For a long time the war was not in the camps.
My father worked in the fields and listened
to the wind moving the grain, or a guard
shouting a command far off, or a man dying.

But in the fall, my father heard the rumbling
whisper of American planes, so high, like
angels, cutting through the sky, a thunder
even God in Heaven would have to listen to.

At last, one day he knew the war was there.
In the door of the barracks stood a soldier,
an American, short like a boy and frightened,
and my father marveled at the miracle of his youth

and took his hands and embraced him and told him
he loved him and his mother and father,
and he would pray for all his children
and even forgive him the sin of taking so long.


The poem appears in my book Lightning and Ashes, about my parents' experiences during the war and afterward.

My daughter Lillian sent me the following link to color photos from before and after D-Day from Life Magazine. The photos are amazing, and a large part of that amazement comes from the color. The color gives me a shock, a good one--it takes away the distance, makes the photos and the people and places in them immediate in a profound way.

Here's the link: Life.