My Own Personal D-Day

75 years ago, 73,000 American heroes prepared to change the world. Loaded down with 100 pounds of gear and ammo, soldiers were dumped on the shore of France, sprayed with salt water and German lead.

In the chaos, thousands of Allied troops fell. It wasn’t one of those victories that felt good. It was a sacrifice made for a greater good– knocking out a genocidal tyrant with a massive army bent on world domination.

Read Josh’s Rise X Up D-Day Post at Manlihood.com

D-Day wasn’t the end of the war. It wasn’t the day that brought ticker-tape parades and sailors kissing nurses in the streets. Rather, it was a battle that turned the tide of the war. Up until that day, a world controlled by Nazis was a very real possibility. D-Day means “Decision Day.” The battle at Normandy marked the day of decisive victory in World War II.

 

Before the battle, General Dwight D Eisenhower remarked, “This operation is not being planned with any alternatives. This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be. We’re going down there, and we’re throwing everything we have into it, and we’re going to make it a success.”

Read Josh’s Rise X Up D-Day Post at Manlihood.com

As we celebrate this anniversary, I want to salute the heroism of the men who risked and gave it all that day to secure liberty for us all. D-Day has another significance for me personally.

One year ago, I was in a tough spot. I was undisciplined, depressed, overweight, and struggling. I have always tried to pursue bettering myself, but I had been through a series of defeats and failures, and I didn’t know where to start to make it right.

 

Good friends had noticed my weight creeping up. They noticed that I was distant. They noticed that I was distracted. Most of them had gotten tired of trying to encourage me. I can still hear the words of my friend Brian, “Josh, what we’re doing here, eating junk food, putting on weight– it’s just slow suicide.”

I wish I could say I let it sink in right away, but it took some time before I had enough pain. And as I’ve heard from other wise friends, “We don’t change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

I had enough. 

So June 6, 2018, was my own personal D-Day. I set my intention on change. I reached out to get help. I changed my diet. I changed my schedule. I started working hard to speak and think differently. I put systems in place to keep my accountable and on track. Like Eisenhower, I said, “There is no alternative. This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”


Mindset is the first thing that had to change. I used to say, “I am fat.” That directly linked my identity to my problem. Now I say, “I have fat, and I’m working on losing it.” It’s a much more accurate statement. It doesn’t attach my struggle to my identity. It gives me the freedom to see myself and my problems more clearly. I am not my failures. My problems are not me.

Read Josh’s Rise X Up D-Day Post at Manlihood.com

It’s been a year. I’m certainly not perfect. I still have a lot of changes to make. I have, though, lost 100 pounds. I have made tremendous strides in my attitude. I have started to become more disciplined, and started accomplishing many of the goals I set for myself a year ago.


I am not writing my successes to be braggadocios, but rather to demonstrate the power of choosing to change. I wasn’t happy with who I was. I wasn’t happy with where I was in my life. I couldn’t make the change on my own, even though I was the only one who could decide to change. I reached out. I got help. I worked my tail off to change the way I thought, spoke, and behaved. 

We all have different struggles. We all have parts of our lives that are holding us back, and left unchecked, could destroy us.

What does this have to do with D-Day? Everything. 

Maybe what we need  is to declare war. Maybe what we need is to rise up and storm the beach.


I recently saw an internet meme that captured my attention. It read, “If you want to honor our military, be the kind of American worth fighting for.”

Maybe that starts with each of us striving to be better– with each of us making a decision– our own personal D-Day.

Read Josh’s Rise X Up D-Day Post at Manlihood.com

Josh Hatcher - Founder of Manlihood.com - Author - Speaker


Josh Hatcher lives in Bradford Pennsylvania, has authored several books including  Manlihood: The 12 Pillars of Masculinity American Poetry: Poems for a Wounded Nation  and is the founder of Manlihood.com

Fining Lawbreakers? Or are Speed Traps about making money for someone else?

A few years ago, I got pulled over in Limestone. Actually – BEFORE the infamous “Speed Trap” that everyone talks about.

I had just exited the expressway, and was on 219, traveling slower than the flow of traffic. I know I was speeding. So I’ll ADMIT that I know I was speeding. Here’s the deal. With the angle of the sun, I couldn’t see the numbers really well, but I could see my needle. I’m guessing I was going over 60 and under 65 in a 55 mile an hour zone, with cars ahead of me going faster, and a car passing me on the left.

As I drove, I saw a Sheriff’s deputy turning from the other side of the highway, and immediately stepped on my brakes as a reaction. As I looked down, I saw my speed drop to 55.  When I stepped on my brakes, he was still traveling northbound.

The police officer pulled in behind me, passing two other southbound cars to do so – and pulled me over.

He told me I was going 71.
I respectfully disagreed, and told him that I would be protesting it in court.

So I had to reschedule my first hearing, and showed up a couple months later. I was the first person in the door, and was told they usually see people in a first come/first served order.

And yet, I watched and listened as about 30 people were called ahead of me. A couple people were cited for commercial violations. Another was cited for driving 55 in the 40.

But the overwhelming majority of the folks were asked to approach, where the judge talked as quiet as he could – but loud enough that we all heard him. Many of the defendants said, “I know I was speeding, but I wasn’t going 71 miles per hour.”

The judge then cited them with “failure to obey a traffic sign” and charged them each $100.

Meanwhile, the officer who wrote my ticket comes in, and I hear him say to the clerk (again, attempting to be discreet) “Thanks for calling me. Man, I forgot all about this!”

The way I understand it – if a police officer doesn’t show up for a hearing – the ticket is thrown out. But – instead of letting that scenario play itself out – they made me wait till the end of the evening, and they called the officer in from home to prosecute me.

He pulled me aside for a “pre-trial conference” and I again affirmed, that I was speeding, but I wasn’t going the speed he said that I was. He offered to lessen the charge to “failure to obey a traffic sign” – a charge with which I was admittedly guilty – and then I went in and saw the judge who lowered my fine to $100.

There were dozens of others that day – all CONTESTING a 71 mile an hour ticket – who were all given a $100 fine and a lesser charge.

I have also never seen an accident on the stretch of road from the stateline to Route 86. Ever. A flat tire once. Lots of traffic tickets being written. Some crazy guy driving a nice sedan down on the railroad tracks. But I’ve NEVER seen an accident on that stretch of road.

The question I have about Limestone / Carrollton is this:

Is this area so heavily enforced, with poorly marked signage, solely to raise funds? Do the police frequent here at the request of state/county/local lawmakers? Is the problem with speed, or with poor signage? Or is the problem that someone is TRYING to make their budgets out of speed enforcement?

I think that safety is important. Certainly, if the state can prove that the area needs reduced speed to keep the safety, I’m all for that. But my guess is – this area has been proven to be a source of speeding ticket income, and so it’s been intentionally given poor signage, and thuggish enforcement.

Frankie Bruzzi and the Toilet Paper

951031C2-C373-E7EF-114FED997DC2241DI love to tell stories about growing up in Roulette. I have to tell them sparingly, because my kids would ask me to tell them over and over again – to the point that we wouldn’t get anything done.

My favorite stories usually have Frankie Bruzzi in them. Now that he’s an adult, I’m sure he prefers to go by Frank – but he’ll ALWAYS be “Frankie” to me.

Frankie was a good looking Italian kid who lived along Route 6. We rode the school bus together from the time we were in first and second grade. In junior high, we were both in band, chorus, and drama, and we both played the saxophone, so our social circles merged.

Whenever Frankie’s story intersects with mine, there’s bound to be an adventure.

When Frank started driving, he would pick me up for school, and for marching band practice. On this particular adventure, Frank had picked me up in his step-dad’s soft-top Jeep Wrangler. We went to an all-day end of summer marching band practice, and we were headed home on the back road (Card Creek / Kim Hill Road).

My naturally curious self decided to open the glove box, and I discovered a roll of toilet paper.

“What’s this for?” I asked curiously. Although now that I have much more life experience than I did as a 16 year old, it was a dumb question.

Frank explained that he often found himself in need of bath tissue when he was driving in the woods.

I got the bright idea of holding the roll, and letting out the paper a little at a time, so that it trailed and flapped in the wind. Since the doors were off the Jeep, this was quite easy, and quite entertaining. I had stretched enough toilet paper that we had a flapping white tail about twenty feet behind us.

While we laughed and enjoyed ourselves, we didn’t think about the consequences. What could go wrong? It’s just toilet paper, right?!

Another car turned onto the dirt road behind us. I got a little nervous about the long trail of toilet paper, and started trying to roll it up – but unfortunately, bath tissue, even double ply is perforated, which means there are weak points in its tensile strength.

All thirty feet of toilet paper let the roll with extreme velocity, which may or may not have been influenced by the excessive speed in which we were driving. The long snaking streamer of white  flew straight backward, and piled up on the windshield of the car behind us, completely obscuring the windshield.

As the brakes behind us squealed and skidded on the gravel, I looked at Frankie, who looked at me… both our faces frozen in an “OH CRAP” face… and Frankie dug his heels into the accelerator. We were home before we could even think of getting caught.

So, almost 20 years later, I find myself making an open  and sincere apology to the poor soul who got TP’d on Kim Hill Road at 50 miles an hour.