During the early days of World War II, the American forces undertook the invasion of Sicily. The 1st Ranger Battalion, an Army special forces unit known as Darby’s Rangers, was given the task of spearheading the invasion. The plan was to attack Gela which was a small, heavily defended fishing town on the southern coast. The Rangers rushed onto the beach which was chocked full of mines and barbed wire. They faced everything that day including machine guns, artillery, enemy tanks, and German aircraft. Fighting heroically, while incurring heavy casualties, the American forces advanced from the beach, fighting house to house in the town. At one point, the leader of the attack force, William Darby, noticed a companion soldier shaking and asked if he was scared. The young man casually retorted, “No, sir. I’m just shaking with patriotism.” Eventually, the town of Gela was captured, scoring a decisive victory which led to the Allied forces conquering the German and Italian forces occupying Sicily.
What does it mean to shake with patriotism? It is the willingness to stand firm in the face of overwhelming fear and anxiety, and risk your life for your country. We celebrate our veterans because they are willing to heroically take up this responsibility and risk their lives for our country.