by Kerry Dougherty
My most memorable Memorial Day did not take place on Memorial Day at all, but a few weeks earlier. In May of 1982.
But then again, every day is Memorial Day when you stand on those beaches at Normandy. It was a glorious spring morning on the coast of France. The sky was the deepest shade of blue. A gentle wind made the American flags flutter. And I was there with 52 Irish boys. Bad boys.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Forty-one years ago, I lived in Dublin, where I attempted to eke out a living as a freelance writer in the dingy offices of the now-defunct Irish Press. While back home, American newsrooms were swapping their IBM Selectrics for computers, this one was stuck in another era. Manual typewriters created a chattering cacophony, cigarette smoke turned the air blue, greasy chip wrappers littered the floors. Everyone was known by their last name.
Except me. I was The Yank.
I was toiling away on some forgettable story, dutifully reminding myself to spell gray as “grey” and harbor as “harbour,” when I overheard two of my editors talking.
“Ask the Yank,” Muldowney said. “She’ll go anywhere.”
“Hey, Yank,” O’Kane shouted. “How’d you like to go to France for the weekend?”
“Yes, please,” I begged.
I’d never been to France. I was weary of the endless Irish gloom. The unexpected offer of a weekend in sunny France was so seductive I never asked if there was a catch.
There was, of course. Continue reading