©2003, 2009, Colin Charland, Chad Charland, and Claire Ashford
Guy Charland: patriot, artist/illustrator, poet, warrior, and friend. The words you will read here are the unvarnished remembrances of a rare man (though heíd be the last to claim it so); a man whose experiences marked him for life with the distinction of one of Franceís highest military awards for valor, with victory over the enemies of freedom in Europe during the crucible of the largest land invasion of the Second World War and the following fight across France that sealed the Nazisí fate in the west, and with three wounds in his body and a continual storm of memories in is mind as proof of his payment.
As you read the blunt and direct words of his heart, strive to put yourself in his boots. Try to remember with him what it is like to be so scared you canít recall where you are, what itís like to fight so long and continually that you literally fall asleep from exhaustion in the middle of a street by street firefight, what it is like to be hit by an enemyís bullets in your flesh and the flesh of your friends.
Try to remember what the impact of that fighting is like on a manís spirit, when the memories of it come flooding in when youíre alone at night in cold, sweating heart-pounding floods of sights and sounds so real you can feel their impact on you Ö over and over and over again. And if you can remember, then you will have shared some little part of what itís like to be a soldier.
And when itís over, you will have managed something else, something you may not see quickly but that will remain with you and should never be allowed to die: some little part of the unimaginable debt that you and I, and our children, and their children after them owe to these men and women. The generation who beat back the tide of Axis tyranny did not ask for that job; they did not ask to go from high school football stadiums to foxholes all over this earth to confront dedicated enemies who sought their lives head on Ö but they did it. They did it so well, even at such a great cost, that you and I could sit here in safety and in freedom Ö and remember with them what it is like to be a soldier.
Gerald K Bishop
Colonel, U.S. Air Force