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In the 1950’s, South Georgia was pretty much all farmland, except for the small towns where agricultural product processing and transporting were important parts of the economy.

Field after field of corn, peanuts, cotton, and watermelons lined the roads and highways.

The farms were large, but the population sparse. Homes with wrap-around porches and clapboard tenant houses dotted the landscape.

When an automobile came down the road, the children playing in the dirt yards of the  shacks would stop and stare until the car was out of sight, probably wondering who the passengers were and where they were going.

South Georgia was “real country” back then, complete with hot weather and gnats, much like the day a good friend of my dad’s was heading back to Columbus from the Gulf Coast. Needing a break, he stopped at a service station and bought a cold drink.

Since he was near the outskirts of town and on the south side, he was in the area where the people of color resided.

Down the road apiece, he saw a group of African-American boys playing baseball. Ready for a break from driving, he decided to watch a few innings. He found a good vantage point under a shade tree near the outfield and watched youngster after youngster clobber the ragged baseball with a board bat out to the farthest part of sunbaked field, not far from where he sat. A small boy stood there alone, chasing the balls that were hit past the outfielders.

The audience of one sipped his drink and watched the show. After a few moments, he called to the ball chaser. “Hey, what’s the score in this game?”

“They ahead 18-0,” he said.

“Wow, I’d say you boys are getting beat pretty bad,” answered my dad’s friend.

“No sir. I wouldn’t say that. We ain’t losin’…we just ain’t had our knock yet.”

Now that my friends, is optimism at its finest.

And right now, we need to be more like that child. There is so much wisdom in what he said.

Believing we can overcome diversity, if we just have one more knock, isn’t a bad motto to have…not bad at all.

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

2020 Pink Moon

Celestial Quarantine

The darkness in my heart forced me into the night

To a silver-colored sky and stars of laser light.

I heard nothing but the crickets and a night bird’s call

The air was fresh and there was no one at all

But the Pink Moon shining and the Big Dipper’s display

Who, together, calmed my fears and seemed to say,

“The world is hurting and the pain is real,

But the heavens will always make the storms be still.”

I stared a little longer at the celestial art…

…a picture of peace that stilled my heart.

I pray the skies embrace you and the stars kiss your face,

Until we meet down the road in a better time and place.

While working for Grimes Publications, I had the opportunity to interview so many incredible people – one of whom was Pine Mountain, Ga., resident and business owner, the late Mr. Al Boyd. He was part of the Normandy invasion and related the details of D-Day to me in 2006 – four months before he passed away

I will never forget the hour I spent with him.

Today, I want to share those memories with you.

Please reflect on what he said and where we are today.

On June 6, 1944, the BBC broadcast two lines from a poem written by French author, Paul Verlaine: “The violins of autumn wound my heart with monotonous languor.”

Those words signaled that D-Day was here.

The naval bombardment began at 0550 hours on the Normandy coast of France, detonating minefields along the shoreline, attempting to destroy enemy positions, and clearing the way for the wave of Allied infantrymen and paratroopers that followed.

The late Mr. Al Boyd of Pine Mountain was in that first wave of attack.

“I was part of the 11th Naval Amphibious Force, a special support group whose job it was to prepare the way for our boys. We had rocket ships, gunboats, flack barges, and underwater demolition teams. We had to take the demolition teams and loads of TNT within two miles of Omaha Beach and cut them loose.

“We were in 8-foot seas and towing something behind us that could blow us all away. The stern would go up into the air and crash back down just in time to take a hit from another 10-foot wave. We nearly bit the dust a time or two.

“After we cut loose the demolition teams, we kept going in and firing, trying to give cover so they could get in there and take out those enemy guns. We were there D-Day plus eight more.

“The seas were very rough, and some of the landing boats had a hard time getting close to shore. They just dropped those big doors, and the boys had to get out wherever they were. They had lots of gear and guns and were up to their chins or higher in the water and fighting those waves. Many of them didn’t make it – they never saw the beach. But the troops just kept coming, and we kept making those runs and firing.

“Omaha was a bloodbath. There were steep cliffs about 300 feet high on the left side where the big 88-millimeter guns were. On the other side was a more gently sloping terrain, where the bunkers and machine gun installations were.

“The first waves of our boys were mowed down like wheat.”

Mr. Boyd grew quiet for a moment as if to pay respect to his comrades he saw perish that day. His eyes had a faraway look that reflected things only he could see.

“The beach was full of the dead and wounded, but there were boys still trying to scale those cliffs. They needed to get up there and throw grenades into the slips of the bunkers and get rid of those big guns.

“You never forget what happened, but you can’t help but wonder why. When you study history, however, you learn the reasons.

It has always been about man’s inhumanity to man…about man’s greed. It doesn’t make sense, but it all boils down to that one word…greed.

“Our boys succeeded on D-Day by pure tenacity – backbone. Many of the enemy troops on Omaha were prisoners of war that the Germans had captured. They were only fighting for their lives…we were fighting for the life of our country. We believed in what we were doing.”

Mr. Boyd’s words illuminate the difference is being great and talking great — action.

In honor of all who have served and defended our country, we must believe in the life of our country again.

We must find our backbone and tenacity.

We must remember what courage is.

Before it is too late.

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