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, May 5, 2013
Chuck Visits Utah Beach
You can be totally ignorant of the history of World War II, the battles and the larger issues that tumbled the entire world into war, and yet someone can say:
D Day Invasion of German occupied Normandy, France
Your tousled head comes up and you recognize the term and the place and the pivotal moment. That was Chuck. That’s what propelled this rascal cat, this world traveller, first to Omaha Beach and then to Utah Beach.
I’d hinted to Chuck that Utah Beach had it’s own own unique story, which I told him as we headed toward the museum that now commemorates this sacred ground where men sacrificed their lives for freedom.
When the United States 4th Infantry Division landed on June 6, 1944, they met little resistance from the Germans. In fact, out of the 23,250 troops who landed, they suffered less than 200 casualties. There were several reasons for this, but I think the most compelling reason was that Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Assistant Commander of the 4th Division, insisted on landing with his troops.
He was the only general to do so. He had requested permission to come ashore with his troops several times and been denied, but finally received the OK to his written request. At 56, he was the oldest soldier to land on Utah Beach, but he wanted to personally lead the attack. And it was a good thing, too.
Unfortunately, that day the landing craft drifted far south of its objective. Roosevelt, realizing this fact, was the one who contacted the other commanders and coordinated the attack. He is famously quoted for saying, “We’ll start the war from here.” Throughout the day, he pointed almost every regiment to its changed objectives. For his bravery on the field--which, of course, saved lives--he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
One of those "saved" lives was J.D. Salinger, who survived that battle and others in the war and returned home to write The Catcher in the Rye, which stayed on the New York Times Bestseller List for thirty weeks.
I remember reading The Catcher in the Rye and meeting Holden Caulfield for the first time. I'm sure that I'm one of hundreds of thousands of high school students in America and around the world that were affected in a positive way by Holden Caulfield's story.
When Chuck and I arrived at the museum and looked at the artifacts, I tipped my hat to Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Chuck was impressed, too. He likes stories where one man's actions make a difference.
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