Normandy veterans find each other on a bus

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

Thanks to Harrell Funeral Home I returned to the beaches at Normandy; a bus load of veterans and spouses took off for Bedford to see the D-Day Memorial placed there in honor of the young men from that city killed on the first day of the invasion.

On the bus I met for the first time Suffolk’s Fred Nelms, who was somewhere in the sky above us piloting a bomber. We have much to talk about and will do it over lunch. Veterans on the bus represented most wars fought since the Civil War and World War I.

Traveling by bus somehow makes a trip shorter, even with nature and lunch stops.

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I met several people from Suffolk who woke up with the chickens … you need an early start if you are to traverse the width of the state and return same day. The only problem with long trips is that we have been sold on the necessity of dragging along bottled water for reasons of health and this &uot;habit&uot; fires up the kidneys. When ever that bus stopped, the majority hurried off.

Eventually we got to know each other and had a good time.

The Memorial is purely symbolic, but well executed to give observers the &uot;feeling&uot; that it was not a good day to be there.

Bronze figures of soldiers in the water and on the &uot;beach&uot; expressed the fear, pain, and horror without the stark reality of that morning.

The sight and sound of bullets smacking the water was real enough for me.

I could not resist chiding Nelms for the fact that when his work was over that day he could return to a hot meal in England.

I thank Robert Brinkley and his wife for being great hosts.

The “un-accomplishments”

Whenever I hear or read about &uot;accomplishments&uot; (ribbon cutting or gold shovels) by city officials or prominent citizens, I also remember &uot;un-accomplishments.

Did you ever wonder why so many of our beautiful lakes are owned by other cities? That happened a long time ago and was the beginning of the streak of bad decisions.

So how did we manage to lose what’s now Chesapeake Square? It could easily have been Suffolk Square if we had moved quicker.

And now we are losing to others our rightful claim to be the home of the peanut; other areas make much louder noises and assume the title. And we let Kraft Foods buy out the peanut plant. Worse, not only did the name, Louise Obici, disappear from Amedeo’s hospital, it’s been snapped up by Sentara.

Out at the airport we had the beginnings of a fine tourist attraction, historical airplane museum, the Fighter Factory, World War II planes restored to mint condition. So far we have retained the restoration facility, but the museum went to Virginia Beach.

Then there was the proposed Indian Village Matanoch at one Star Lakes. It may have been nudged out by a desire to construct Steve Herbert’s Lone Star Marina, but that will not materialize either because the Corp Of Engineers laughed at the idea of digging a new channel to it.

Then there was the Indian Museum in Chuckatuck, also a tourist draw; no city funding, so it went elsewhere.

And antique cars and motorcycles used to draw tourists to their rallies at Lone Star Lakes. But those losses are nothing … now it’s an historical bridge we are about to lose. If I missed anything else let me know.

Possible good news

I had a pleasant visit with Chuckatuck Councilman Joseph Barlow during which he said that the &uot;Bridge&uot; club has his support in its endeavor to save the bridge. He will assist them in any way he can to see that those interested in saving the current bridge or attempting to find a temporary bridge solution, if it is possible, will get a fair hearing. That could be good news.