Enduring dreams of combat

As a kid growing up in 1950’s small town Indiana, I was proud that my dad had fought in the big war, but I had no idea how much horror, anguish and phyical suffering he must have endured. He’s gone now, so I’ll never know the details, but a few years ago I found some disturbing news in a library book about World War II. I looked up 90th Infantry Division in the index and began going to the pages that mentioned their activity. I was stunned at the number of horrific battles they were in, at the heroism, the significance of their campaigns and at the carnage. I hate that he had to endure it. The 358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Division, put out a booklet that told the story of their march through Europe. It was rather clinical, doing little more than describing where they went and, briefly, what happened there. On one page, though, there was a backward checkmark (dad was left-handed). It was the only mark he made in the booklet, and I’ll never know why he put it there. It was at a paragraph with the heading The Jaws Close, and it read: “After Le Mans, the Division cut north in clouds of dust toward Alencon, following the Second French Armored Division and blocking to the West any effort of the German 7th Army to escape the inevitable and fast closing Falaise Trap.” ┬áLe Mans, Alencon, Falaise–these were names I heard recently while watching a program on the Military Channel about the Allies’ struggle to break out of the Normandy peninsula, and the raw footage...