Press Start – Call of Duty: WWII

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Call of Duty: World War II opens against the backdrop of the D-Day invasion.

As the Higgins boat ramp drops into the water, your fellow soldiers are mowed down where they stand. Blood and bullets are flying everywhere! We’ve all seen this moment in history play out in such movies as Saving Private Ryan and even video games such as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. For some reason though, Call of Duty: WWII makes this moment in time different. There is a human angle present, in a Call of Duty game, that I haven’t felt in a long time.

Advancing up the beach, I died over and over again. Somewhere between 10-20 times, I was killed by German bullets. The game kept telling me to crouch, which I did, but I failed to realize that the game wanted me on my belly to avoid enemy fire. Once I figured out that I could run and then hit the deck, I was good to go. But in all of my dying, I got thinking about the soldiers who didn’t make it that day.

By the end of my part in the D-Day assault, my character is told that he did a good job. He survived. And then the camera pans down to the blood on his hands.

My only complaint with Call of Duty: WWII so far is that I am finding it hard to tell my squad mates a part. Underneath helmets, characters unintentionally become “Random White Dude #1”, “Random White Dude #2 with Glasses”, and so on. I am hoping that as I continue to play, that I’ll be able to tell the guys a part. Onward and forward!

Passing Ships

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Yesterday, as I was driving to the Post Office, I noticed a woman crossing the street holding a brown box. The box could have held items that needed to be shipped; the box could also have held all of her possessions from work. This woman could have just been fired.

This morning, as I was driving to work, I saw an older man crossing the street with a cane and a bottle of oxygen. A tube ran from the bottle into the man’s jacket. I’m guessing he needed the oxygen to breathe. Who was this man? Where had his shoes recently taken him?

We never fully know the experiences and events that have shaped those around us. The older man I witnessed this morning could have easily been a World War II veteran. He could have  stormed the beaches of Normandy, watching those around him fall to the ground lifeless. He could have returned from the war, married, and raised a family that has since deserted him.  The thing is, I have no clue who that man was nor will I ever.

My Grandpa Hall rarely talked about his time in the Navy. What I do know is that he was a radar man aboard the Battleship New Jersey, in the Korean Conflict. I remember him talking about being stationed high up in the ship. He also talked about how much the ship would move when firing a broadside. That was pretty much all he said about his time serving.

When my Grandpa Hall died a year ago, there were pictures at his funeral. One of the pictures showed him laying on a bunk in his ship (looked crowded). He told my Grandma, in a letter, that he had a picture of her and my Dad that he looked at every night. The picture of him on his bunk showed him reading his Bible.

Though I don’t know much about my Grandpa Hall’s time in the war, I do know that he got up early every morning to read his Bible. Even as dementia set in, later in his life, he would still get up and read his Bible the best he could. He had made a habit stick so much that even in his memory loss, reading the Bible daily was ingrained in him.

Strange how little we can know about family members. Some like to talk about their pasts while others prefer the past remain behind them. I’ll never know anything more about my Grandpa’s time in the Navy; I’ll never anything more about the woman I saw yesterday or the older man I saw today.