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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)

TITLE: Omaha Beach
By Karen Deikun


It was almost dawn at last. The strange night that was both too long and too short was finally over. The head had been busy during the night, with so many of the men throwing up - either from the tossing of the waves or the fear. Dan carefully unfolded Laura’s letter and read it again. He was going to be a father. The lump that had formed in his throat seemed to choke him and hot tears slid down his cheeks. He was so thankful they’d decided to move the wedding up and have those few precious weeks before he had to leave. Now he worried about Laura being alone with a baby on the way.

He wasn’t angry about being drafted – he believed they were in a war that needed to be fought. Some of their neighbors on Carlisle Street didn’t agree with the war, though – at least, not before Pearl Harbor. They thought that what was going on in Europe was not a matter of concern for the US, and they didn’t believe the stories they heard about people being burned to death in ovens. Such a thing was inconceivable to a tenderhearted man like Dan, who had cried when his dog was hit by a car. To cause human beings such suffering when they had done nothing was beyond his ability to understand, but Dan did believe it was happening. He knew it with a sure dread. His mother was the only one on the street who had made friends with the Jewish family at the corner. Greta got news from her family in Europe from time to time and she’d read the letters to them in the kitchen, her voice breaking and her hands shaking. It was all true - and Dan knew it had to be stopped. Believing it didn’t make it any easier to leave Laura, and it didn’t make the actual reality of war any easier, either. He was there because it had to be done.

As he went through the routine of pulling on his boots and checking his equipment, he felt the huge ship begin to shake as it slowed. They began going topside, and climbing onto the small boats that would take them ashore. He idly realized that today was June 6th, 1944 – his twenty-first birthday. He felt a terrible sadness as he imagined Laura looking at the calendar – wishing they could be together to celebrate.

Before them in the eerie dawn light they heard the strange whistle and shriek followed by booming explosions as grenades landed. When their boats hit the coastline, they jumped out, landing in a nightmare of noise and confusion. Dan glanced behind him to see the boats pulling away. There was no way back.

It all felt unreal. He watched himself raise his rifle and take aim. He couldn’t be shooting at another human being – he couldn’t be doing that. He should be seeing the black and white images on a movie screen, not these much too real faces, not his buddies falling to the ground beside him. Time seemed to slow and every movement seemed to take forever and yet no time at all. Amid the noise, as he saw men fall to the right and the left, he knew without a doubt that this was his last day on earth. He wondered what it would be like to die. He began to pray as he moved ahead, knowing that soon his body, along with thousands of others, would lay lifeless on Omaha Beach that day.

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This article has been read 997 times
Member Comments
Member Date
dub W07/11/05
61 years is a short time, I hope we never forget the sacrifice of the men and women of that generation.
Shari Armstrong 07/11/05
Thank you for the personal telling of such an important day in history.
Nina Phillips07/11/05
What a feeling of being involved in such an event in history. Very touching. God bless, littlelight
Cheri Hardaway 07/12/05
I have goosebumps! This was a wonderful piece. You left me wanting to know the outcome - did he make it or not? Thanks for writing - and helping us all to remember those who selflessly fight for our freedoms, both then and now! Blessings, Cheri
Val Clark07/13/05
War, right or wrong, the outcomes are so terribly, terribly tragic.
Kyle Chezum07/13/05
Very good story! Keep it up.
Suzanne R07/14/05
Beautifully written. I wonder if this is factual in any way - the family of the author or someone? It is very touching, and if not literally true in the details, certainly very close to somebody's story. War is awful, and you've brought that out well. Well done.
Beth Muehlhausen07/14/05
He had such a tender heart...so much what a man should be. I felt myself respecting him and yet wanting him to somehow escape the terror....good portrayal of the "inside story".
Maxx .07/15/05
Very moving insights from a very real day. Good work.
Marilyn Schnepp 11/25/05
Words cannot express the feelings I had while reading a real, true-to-life story of patriotism, death and heartache. Very well written, definitely a God given talent.