Friday, June 6, 2008

D-Day + 23376

It was 23376 days ago today that the largest invasion force history had ever seen stormed the beaches of Normandy to free Hitler's Europe. Allied Forces attacked (codenamed) Gold, Juno, Sword, Omaha and Utah beaches.
I really can't imagine the horror experienced by the first few waves of soldiers. The 101st Airborne took out some of the guns pointed down on Utah Beach, sparing Allied lives but Omaha Beach was a different story.

Erin's late Paternal Grandpa flew bombing missions over the Normandy coast to prepare for D-Day. Her grandma said he'd only discuss the missions when he was drunk. He would constantly ask, "why was I allowed to live when so many others died." Grandpa John also dropped Airborne Infantry on D-Day. Just a couple months ago, I convinced Erin's Grandma to collect money from the Grandkids to purchase a memorial brick for the WWII memorial in his Catholic cemetery. I occasionally hang out at the Assisted Living Center with a guy who also flew bombing missions over Normandy and even into France. My cousin-in-law's Grandpa fought on D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne. She tells me he'd never discuss it, but had nightmares that made him scream.

I've read a lot about WWII history, so I really could go on for hours. Two books I'd recommend are June 6, 1944 and Band of Brothers, both by Stephen Ambrose.

Here are a couple clips from Hollywood. Band 0f Brothers - link
Saving Private Ryan (Kids, DO NOT watch without asking mom or dad) - link 1 link 2 link 3
link 4 All of these links have some pretty violent content, especially Saving Private Ryan, so be warned. But I believe watching such horrific scenes gives us just a bit of insight into what these soldiers went through.
Here is a tribute video I found on Youtube, which will lead you to some others - link

In the summer of 2006, I had the privilege of touring the Normandy area; Pont de Hoc, the American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, the German Cemetery and other memorials.
Looking out a German pillbox that was aimed at Utah Beach.
That same pillbox
Pont De Hoc, where Rangers climbed up the cliffs to take out German guns.
Standing in a crater formed by Navy Shelling on Pont De Hoc
A German bunker at Pont De Hoc.
Crosses in the German cemetery.
Normandy is a beautiful region, like the Midwest, but on the Atlantic.

The bluffs soldiers climbed up from Omaha Beach.
Omaha Beach is behind me.

Also Omaha Beach
American Cemetery

A destroyed German gun
Three of those huge guns
A powerful quote at the German cemetery.
This was a battle of attrition. The only way to get thousands of men through the German defenses was to send tens of thousands. Men died on those beaches who should be holding their great-grandkids right now.
War is hell.

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