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“Don’t thank me and don’t say I’m a hero. I’m no hero, I was lucky, I’m here. All the heroes are dead and I’ll never forget them as long as I live.” – Harry Billinge, D-Day veteran
How much longer are we going to have these voices among us? When they fade, who will remind us?
Well-meaning friends tell me I should not feel ‘guilty’ for the unspeakable evil my country had brought over Europe and the world, or for the lives lost by those who fought it. I reply to them I feel responsible and that’s a difference, but honestly, what vain semantics.
If it was the price to keep the memory alive, I’d take shame and guilt for a lifetime any time. To remember is to acknowledge, to honour, to reassure the living that these dead mean something to the strangers they saved from the hell hole of history by throwing themselves in.
Today I am grateful for freedom and for those who gave their lives to restore it.
I think of my friends in Normandy and of those beaches we walked together, and of Harry Billinge and the dead he will never forget as long as he lives. So shan’t we, Harry.