June 6, 1944: The day America and its allies launched a risky effort that would turn the tide of World War II. Something we all should stop and take a minute to honor 61 years later.
June 6, 1994: The day one man launched a risky effort that would turn the tide of his life. Something he stops and takes more than a minute to honor 11 years later.
June 6, 1944 started the chain of events that led to the end a long, deadly war. June 6, 1994, started my last stand with a private war against The Beast, commander in chief of the disease called alcoholism.
Today, after 11 years, it is a war that is still waged one day at a time – 4018 of them – and one where a stalemate is victory measured in 24-hour increments for the remainder of my life.
Not long ago, I spent a restless night with a fellow traveler who backslid into the bottle, holding his hand as the convulsions set in, talking him through the shakes, the bouts of dementia and lapses into hysteria that come from an inability to stare down The Beast. Each time I see what alcohol can do to the human mind, spirit and body I come away more determined to keep The Beast at bay.
The Beast is a determined, vicious and unforgiving enemy, one that never sleeps, never declares a truce and never stops looking for a weak moment to pounce and take control.
You can’t reason with The Beast. You can’t plea-bargain or reach a cease-fire. No deals. The price of sobriety is eternal vigilance in a battle of wills where weakness signals a line that can be breached and hesitation opens the door for assault.
You can take a vacation from work, a break from the tedium of life or a respite from your day-to-day activities but you can never, ever, relax when facing The Beast. He doesn’t recognize peace accords, truces or stand downs. He will never set foot on the Battleship Missouri and surrender.
But fighting such a war brings, in itself, a sense of accomplishment, an era of peace and quiet in a life where turmoil, stress and tension ruled. You awake each morning with a sense of victory over a resolute enemy and start the day determined to extend that victory streak against long odds, knowing – with satisfaction – that you beat the odds every time the earth completes another rotation.
In a war fought one day at a time, each morning brings reason to celebrate. Each month compounds that celebration and each year is a victory onto itself.
A series of coincidences, compounded by weather and doubt, led to the final decision to launch that attack on the beaches of Normandy 61 years ago today.
Little, if any, coincidence ruled the series of events that led me into a basement church room 11 years ago today to attend that meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and storm the beach controlled by The Beast.
One war ended. Sadly, another war continues today in a far-off land where Americans die.
And here at home, another war continues.
Tomorrow, it will be 11 years…and one day.