Thoughts following a visit to the World War 2 National Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.

Eugene Ovid Lambert was my name,
U.S. Army Airborne casualty.
Died on D-Day, that’s my claim to fame:
June 6, ’44 in Normandy.

How I died the records do not say,
Probably while jumping from a plane
Hoping to hold German troops at bay,
Destined to be numbered with the slain.

Hopes and dreams all died the day I fell:
Wife and children who would never be;
Stories I would never live to tell;
Sunsets I would never live to see.

Those who knew me then have passed away.
With them died all living memory
Of who I was. The price I had to pay
Carved onto a cross in Normandy.

 

 

James A. Tweedie is a retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He has written and published six novels, one collection of short stories, and three collections of poetry. His poetry has been featured in Asses of Parnassus, Lighten Up On Line, Better then Starbucks, Unchained Muse, The Lyric, and Poetry Salzburg Review.


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13 Responses

  1. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thank you, Mr. Tweedie.
    I watch WWII movies and read occasionally about it, and look around wondering who today would take the risks, make the sacrifices, and bear the suffering that those who lived through that slice of history did.

    Reply
  2. Damian Robin

    Thanks, James. A fine poem on loss of life and loss of that life’s memory.

    Reply
  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    101st Airborne – “The Screaming Eagles.” Private Lambert was likely killed in one of the behind-the-lines parachute drops meant to disrupt and confuse German defenses.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      This what my research showed and what I have attempted to include in my poem. Recently I discovered an article (in Dutch of all things) that located Lambert’s death just north of the town of Sainte-Mer-Eglise near the village of Baudienville where one of the preinvasion drops took place. One record suggests that his body was badly damaged, which could suggest either death from the drop itself or from traumatic injury afterward. In my poem I tried to humanize the sacrifice of war but putting a human face on it. Seeing a vast sea of graves is one thing. Contemplating just one of them can lead thoughts and feelings to a different place.

      If it interests anyone, more can be found here

      http://screamingducks.com/eugene-ovid-lambert/

      or, if you read Dutch, even more, here

      http://screamingducks.com/misc/ktr-artikelen/eugene-ovid-lambert-dutch/

      Reply
  4. Jeff Eardley

    Mr. Tweedie. Thank you for this most moving tribute to one of that special Band of Brothers.

    Reply
  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    James, thank you very much for the poignant poem and your inspirational picture that accompanies it. The imaginative first person account is most effective, and brings an immediacy to the memory of these young men and what they went through in the name of freedom.

    My grandfather was part of the 6th Airborne Division in the UK. It was an airborne infantry division of the British Army during the Second World War. They dropped food parcels and provisions to the troops, and, because of this, were at greater risk of being shot down. I consider myself extremely lucky to have enjoyed my grandfather’s company for 42 years, and will never stop being grateful for the freedom he and many others fought for.

    With much appreciation to you, James, for this posting and to the greatest generation on Veterans Day in America and Remembrance Day in the UK.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Susan,

      I, too, was fortunate to have a number of family members who served and fought in the Second World War. All of them survived, which is a miracle of sorts and, like yourself, I was privileged to have been blessed to have known them and to have heard them tell a few of the stories they were willing to tell. I am, coincidently, in the middle of writing a long short story that includes a brief section of the character’s service in Europe during the war. By a stroke of luck, as a private, he gets hooked up with Eisenhower’s command staff and never sees action. My Uncle Jack, by the way, who flew many bombing missions over Germany, was hand-picked by Eisenhower to fly him into France following the D-Day invasion. He was then asked to be the General’s personal pilot for the remainder of the war but, after having served and survived three tours of duty, he opted to return home, instead.

      As a pastor, I also was privileged to officiate at seven interments at the Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Always a moving experience to honor those who served and to lay them to rest alongside the Korean War Unknowns and so many others who gave their all in service to our nation and the freedom it represents to the world.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        James, when you say; “I was privileged to have been blessed to have known them and to have heard them tell a few of the stories they were willing to tell.” it resonates with me.

        My large family comes from London and many of them were involved in WWI and WWII… and the “willing to tell” words are key. I truly believe that the majority of those who witnessed the atrocities of war didn’t tell. It took my grandfather until his first great-grandchild (my son) was in his teens to mention a couple of the horrors he witnessed. I believe he told him because he wanted him to know the price of war in a world treading a dangerous path. I also think that not breathing life into situations that hurt like hell may have been the mental salvation of those who could easily have sunk into depression. My grandfather focused on the future, not the past, giving his family a life of joy and love. When he revealed a soupçon of the horror he suffered, it made me understand the price and value of liberty.

        Thanks again for highlighting the cost… lest we forget.

  6. Margaret Coats

    James, thanks for the honor you give to the many who served, and to the few veterans still with us, now in their 90’s. My father did wartime service in North Africa and Italy, and occupation duty in Germany. My mother lost a beloved cousin in the Philippines after he had spent much of the war as a pilot flying from England. We owe them a world of remembrance, and thinking today of Eugene Lambert contributes to that.

    Reply
  7. Jeff Eardley

    James, my father, stunted by rickets in his early years, ended up being a “Batman” to an officer throughout WWII in Northern France, searching for V1 rocket sites. His brother was shot in the battle for Caen. MyGrandfather was gassed in Belgium at Louvain in WWI and named his first daughter after the town. All these people came back from war and quietly got on with their lives. We owe them a huge debt for the freedom we all now enjoy. Thank you again for this lovely tribute.

    Reply

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