Betty and I just watched an NCIS episode where Charles Durning played a former Marine who believed he killed his best friend on Iwo Jima. In reality his best friend had stepped on a land mine and lost both legs and was in great pain.
A Japanese patrol was passing close by and if they heard his friend’s agony the rest of his patrol would most likely have been killed. He hit his friend on the head to knock him out, but he died. Over the years he began to believe he killed his friend. In reality he saved the lives of the rest of his unit.
So, with that background, here’s some information about Charles Durning. Over his career he was a celebrated actor on stage, in films and on television. He died on December 24, 2012.
There’s no question he worked hard as an actor and made something of his life after being raised in a family where his mother was a laundress.
This success followed his military career during World War II.
Durning served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was drafted at age 20. On June 6, 1944, Durning was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and landed in the first wave on Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy.
He was the only survivor of his unit that landed on D-Day.
After being wounded by a German anti-personnel mine in the Bocage, he spent six months recovering. Durning was reassigned to the 398th Infantry Regiment with the 100th Infantry Division, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. He was discharged with the rank of Private First Class on January 30, 1946.
He fought in two of the worst, bloodiest battles of the European campaign – first wave on Omaha Beach and the Battle of the Bulge.
For his valor and the wounds he received during the war, Durning was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts.
No safe places for him.
This is the kind of man that America often used to produce from humble beginnings.
I suspect we still have young men and women who are raised in humble beginnings and who are willing to serve and sacrifice for their country in the military, police, fire departments, and emergency medicine.
No safe places for them either. Remember the police, fire personnel and medical personnel that ran TOWARD the two towers as others ran away.
Yet, what we tend to see most often in the media are young people who complain about their lives in America. Young people who seek safe places from opinions and thoughts that differ from theirs. Young people who shout down speakers with differing opinions. Young people who are deluded to think that there are systems like socialism and communism that are better than our American experiment of individual freedom and responsibility.
I hope these misguided young people are in the minority and America is still producing people like Charles Durning who sacrificed so much, didn’t run away from danger, who loved his country, and who made a success of his life by hard work and sacrifice.