TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In this week’s Cate’s Corner, WFLA’s Keith Cate talks about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and recognizing Memorial Day.
Here are his thoughts:
“Never Forget. For months, we’ve been using war metaphors to describe the battle against coronavirus. Scientists in the trenches, healthcare workers fighting an invisible enemy and dying on the front lines.
It is a fair comparison. But on this Memorial Day weekend, let’s also remember the men and women who died in wars fought for our freedom.
Through the years, I have reported on our heroes here at home and overseas. It’s a humbling experience every time. But I’ll never forget a trip to Normandy, France in 1994, covering the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
I was assigned to Omaha Beach – the deadliest of the five landing spots for our troops. As I looked out at the English Channel, I noticed the incredible distance between the water’s edge and the rolling hills and cliffs where German forces waited to attack. I thought about the gunfire raining down on the very spot where I stood. Bombs exploding as brave young men charged across the sand.
Then, an old man bent down beside me – a veteran. I could tell he’d been there before.
I asked him, “What it was like?”
He scooped up a handful of sand and let it slowly slip through his fingers. Then he said, “This is where we landed. This is where my friends died. We can never forget what happened here.”
After that, he just stared at me, tears in his eyes, and said nothing else. In the silence, I felt his grief and his sense of pride.
Twenty-four hundred U.S. troops died on Omaha beach that Tuesday morning. It was the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. I was so moved by the moment I scooped up a handful of sand myself, put it in a film canister and took it home as a reminder to never forget.
Those battling the war on coronavirus deserve our respect and gratitude, no question about it. But, as we continue to give thanks for their service and compare their heroic efforts to war, let’s never forget to honor the ones who made the comparison possible – those who died while serving in the U.S. military. A number that totals nearly 1.2 million.
This Memorial Day, I’m going to remember them – and never forget.”