Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?
I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Chuck Sees Paratrooper on Church Roof in France
To this day a paratrooper hangs off the roof of a church in the small town of Sainte Mere Eglise, Latin for the Church of St. Mary, in Normandy, France.
He’s been hanging there for a long time.
He’s not real, of course. The fake paratrooper is a memorial to the real paratrooper, John M. Steele, whose parachute became caught on the roof spire of the church in town when he landed with a slew of other paratroopers on June 6, 1944. Their mission was to liberate Sainte Mere Eglise from the Germans. Trapped on the roof for two hours, pretending to be dead, he watched the battle raging below. He was later captured, but he managed to escape.
Ironically, he suffered a kinder fate than most of the other paratroopers who landed. Some were caught on trees and utility poles and were shot before they were cut loose. Others were sucked into the fires that raged around them. Casualties were high.
I never considered Chuck, my rascal cat, a history buff, but it’s become clear to me that lately World War II and anything connected to the Second World War holds a certain fascination for him. We were in France, and Chuck heard of St. Mere Eglise and what happened in that small village on one of the most important days of the war.
Location is everything, and it seems that Sainte Mere Eglise was located smack in the middle of the route that the Germans would have to take in order to launch a counter attack against the Allied troops landing on the Utah and Omaha beaches of Normandy.
The Allies needed to take the town. Chuck knew the story. He’d seen the film The Longest Day.
Chuck wanted to see two things. First, we went to the church so he could see the paratrooper--the memorial.
He was impressed.
And then we went inside the church. He wanted to see the stained glass window. Here, too, John Steele, is immortalized. He is one of the two paratroopers landing near the Virgin Mary.
He was impressed again.
Sainte Mere Eglise was occupied for four years by the Germans, but after June 6, 1944, it became the first village to be liberated by the Allies. The people in the town don’t forget. Tourists still come to see a bit of history. And Chuck, well, he wanted to see the paratrooper.