I can’t say that I’ve achieved great things in my life, or that I have done anything particularly remarkable thus far. I try to be a better, more courageous version of myself every single day and I’m not sure anyone could ask for more from me.
When I suffered with depression I found it difficult to function and I existed in a state of fear. Now that I’ve left that darkness behind me, whenever I start to feel afraid or nervous, I think of those who have gone before me, who displayed immense and unyielding bravery in the face of the most unbearable situations, and I’m instantly humbled. This kicks me back to reality, and I feel utterly grateful for all of the blessings in my life, which I’m guilty of taking for granted far too often.
My Grandfather, Percy Beard, was a Royal Engineer World War 2 Veteran, who landed on Juno Beach on D Day 70 years ago today, and it’s from the incredible and selfless acts of bravery, which he displayed on that day in particular, that I draw the most strength. Her actually chose to be there, having been offered to go to Scotland in order to complete Officers training; but he refused, choosing instead to take part in the Normandy invasion.
On that day, the boat my Grandpa was on landed off Juno Beach, and as the troops began their assault by plunging into the sea, his best friend was instantly shot and killed in front of him. The water was deeper than it had been on their practice run and the mine defusing equipment on his back was submerged in the choppy waters and heavy; But still he fought on.
He managed to get up the beach, only to be ordered to go back to the water to rescue his officer, who couldn’t swim. Having faced the cacophony of bullets, screams and tanks once, he ran back through the mayhem and into the sea. He then retrieved the officer and pulled him to safety, back up the beach.
I am always completely and utterly in awe of the fact that so many didn’t even make it up the beach once and yet he did it twice! He was incredibly strong and tenacious. It was his birthday on the 7th of June, and he didn’t even realise until a few days after that that he had turned 23!
Through shear grit and determination he survived. He knew that he couldn’t falter for so much as a second, else he would surely have been killed. He focused on carrying out his duties and staying alive.
He was then posted to Belgium and housed in a Cinema, which was owned by my Grandmother’s parents. They fell in love, married and he brought her back to Wales to live.
Were it not for my Grandfather’s extreme acts of bravery, and those of his comrades, then I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this to you now. With tears brimming in my eyes, I am lost for words as to how indebted I am to him for his actions, and I am am honored to be able to call him my Grandfather.
And so you see, when you are brave, remarkable things really can and do happen! The men who stormed the Normandy beaches on D Day were undoubtedly scared, but they used the fear and adrenaline to propel them forward. The lessons which they taught us all are immeasurable and I for one will be eternally grateful to all of them.
So next time you’re scared, or feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and remember the challenges that those who came before you faced head on, in order for you to be able to live the life you do today. I promise you it really will help you to gain some perspective.
So feel the fear and do it anyway! Live your life to the full and grasp every opportunity that comes your way. Life really is a precious gift.
Thank you Grandpa for the extraordinary lessons you taught us. You are a legend, who will never, ever, be forgotten!