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A flash back when she hears playing of Taps

Published June 09. 2012 09:01AM

Dear Editor:

Shortly after we (the 34th Evacuation Hospital) landed in Normandy and our hospital was filled to overflowing some of us night duty nurses were too emotional to go to sleep after we had breakfast. You see the Army taught us the right procedures, but never said one word about the psychological effects we would experience seeing so many wounded. We needed some time to unwind so we decided to go for a walk, outside our area, to see just what this country we were in looked like. This meant that we were disobeying our CO's command but the stress was that great that we were willing to do just that. You see we were so close to the front in this area. Walking along this dirt road we spied a big field of poppies. We ran into the field and started to pick the flowers to take back to show the other girls what we had found. While we were busy picking these poppies, I seemed to remember a poem I was required to learn here in school. A small convoy of trucks passed by and they stopped their trucks and started to yell at us and didn't use very nice language either. They told us to get out of that field and told us it could be mined. That thought had never occurred to us. That is how young and dumb we were. Now I am old and still dumb. They then told us to retrace our steps so we did just that as best we could. When we got close to their trucks they saw we were nurses and asked what we were doing so close to the front. You see we were dressed exactly like men and were often mistaken for our male counterparts. They apologized for their foul language, too.

After a short time getting acquainted, they asked us if we wanted to go along up to Cherbourg, which had just been liberated the day before. We expressed concern but they promised to bring us back before anyone knew we were missing. So off we went! We finally reached Cherbourg after passing by and seeing total destruction of whole towns. Nothing left but a pile of rubble. After the fellows picked up their supplies we visited Nazi headquarters with a host of guides. While walking along the beach a German plane came out of the sky in a strafing position. We hit the beach but then the plane disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared. To this day I knew God was walking on that beach too. That experience was scary and I know I never did such a foolish thing again!!!

On our way home they decided to visit a new cemetery in operation to find a General McNair's (a Lt. General) grave who was some high ranking officer in their unit. We found his grave, but in doing so we were privileged to see the grave detail burying the dead. We watched in awe as they laid the bodies, wrapped in white sheets, in the long trench, five to a trench. They were most reverent and respectful in doing this dreadful task which was difficult with the sounds of the fighting in the distance. Finally they blew "TAPS." To this day, I start to quiver inside and a cold chill goes up and down my spine when I hear the sounds of taps and once more I am standing there among those while wooden crosses. This is what they call a "Flash Back." If you want to know about "flash backs" just attend one of Battle of the Bulge meetings. I am sure that cemetery is the famous American cemetery everyone visits at Point Du Hoe just off Omaha Beach. I can still see the glimmer of the water in the English Channel, through the trees. The only difference is that the wooden crosses are now replaced by granite crosses.


Marian C. Arner Jones,


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