Saturday, June 15, 2024

My Dad - Felipe Montoya Fajardo - Part 2

I am writing a Part 2 blog about my dad, Felipe M Fajardo because earlier this month on June 6, 2024, the 80th anniversary of D-Day was celebrated. Approximately 10,000 people attended the ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery in France. My father didn't talk about D-Day, in fact my brother took him to see the Steven Spielberg movie "Saving Private Ryan" in 1998 when my dad was 83 years old and he had to walk out of the theater in the first 5 minutes. I realized then that the veterans of D-Day were proud that they served but they didn't want to be reminded of the beaches of France in 1944.

It has taken my entire life to fully appreciate what my father did during WWII. A couple of years ago, a cousin of mine informed me that his shoulder patch shows that he was in the 2nd Infantry Division. His division fought the entire war from North Africa in November 1942, to Sicily in July 1943, to Italy in September 1943, then the Invasion of Normandy, also known as 'D-Day' on June 6, 1944. Then they fought until the end of the war, 'The Battle of the Bulge' was in 1945. The photo above was taken in 1945, at the end of the war. You can see the stress in my father's eyes. I am so grateful he was one of the lucky ones who came home after witnessing these crucial battles and more importantly, liberating Europe, ultimately the world. I know now it was a miracle that he came home to New Mexico to marry my beautiful mother.

The massive allied invasion of D-Day never crossed my mind. Why would it? My father didn't talk about the fact that he was one of the more than 160,000 soldiers to take part in the biggest air, land and sea invasions ever executed. Now I know my father was a part of the most crucial battle that liberated northwest Europe from Nazi Germany on June 6, 1944. It ended with approximately 20,000 casualties on both sides. D-Day is largely considered the successful beginning of the end of Hitler's tyrannical regime. So, ultimately they saved the world.

This now all hits home with me because as we have always heard, history repeats itself. My paternal grandmother died in the pandemic of 1918 when my father was only 3 years old. I am assuming this lead to a difficult childhood for my dad. Then he fought on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France during massive D-Day invasion. It now boggles my mind that I was so unaware of my father's hardships as a child and a young man. It hits way too close to home now that we have lived through a world wide pandemic and now I am feeling that our democracy is in very much in danger. For the first time in my life I realize what a miracle it is that my father came home from WWII and married my mom and had a family. 

A couple of days ago, I discovered a "Friends of the 2nd Infantry Division" page on Facebook so I decided to join and post a couple of photos of my dad. The photos started a conversion. It's a community that wants to further preserve the heritage of our fathers and grandfathers who served in the famous 2nd Infantry Division during WWII. Most of them never talked about their service in the Army. So many questions were left unanswered.

There are now memorials for the 2nd Infantry Division.

Normandy American Cemetery Where almost 10,000 brave American soldiers

So again, on this Father's Day weekend, I would like to thank my father for his bravery, he remains a hero. Happy Father's day Daddy. I love you. Your spirit remains strong amongst your descendants. You will live forever in our hearts.