Many of us will never know the fear, pain, and feeling of overwhelming anticipation that all those brave soldiers felt on June 6th 1944. No matter how many books, movies, or interviews we watch, we will never fully understand the impact of such an event on a human soul. Do not despair, however; there is something vital that we can do. Remembrance. As the wise Louis L’Amor once said, “No memory is ever alone; it's at the end of a trail of memories, a dozen trails that each have their own associations.” It is so easy to forget the struggles of yesterday when the promises of tomorrow are so tremendous. This is why we are gathered here today.
I did not personally know Frederick F. Fleming, or any of his family members, but I do share some common ground with him. Frederick lived in Westborough, Massachusetts, which is a small town in Worcester County. Frederick completed 4 years of high school and became an actor. Though I haven’t completed my 4 years of high school, and I don’t live in his county, I also live in Massachusetts, and have been acting for as long as I can remember. There is nothing like being on stage; house lights off, and the spotlight on your face. It is a liberating experience that allows you to escape into the world of the character for that moment. I really enjoy it, and I’m sure Frederick did as well. Knowing this passion of his only makes it clearer how strongly Frederick felt about joining the army. Though he only lived for a total of 21 years, what he did with the last few chapters of his life will go down in history as one of the bravest acts to be seen on this earth. As if the mere fact that Frederick risked his life for the freedom of thousands of other lives wasn't enough, Frederick was also First Lieutenant of the 743rd Tank Battalion. In order to hold such a position, one must have experience and leadership skills.
As I visited the various museums and studied the tanks, it became easier and easier for me to gain a connection to Frederick. I was given the opportunity to sit inside a tank, and this gave me the most perspective. For a moment, as I was sitting inside, it was as if I was trapped. It was tight, hot, and clearly dangerous. Even with all of these negatives, these brave soldiers were able to push their fears behind them and fight for freedom. These men understood the importance of the four freedoms that FDR touched on in his famous speech. They understood the importance of being able to say what you want. They understood the importance of being able to choose whether to be religious at all. They understood the importance of being able to acquire whatever is desired without obstacles. Lastly, they understood the importance of not allowing oppressors to make nations into victims. And today, on the 18th of July, 69 years later, we are here to honor them and to understand the importance of the hard fight that they fought. May all these brave soldiers rest in peace.