One of the family traditions we have at my house (like watching “1776” on the fourth of July) is watching The Longest Day every June 6th:
TLD is superlative to Saving Private Ryan, and who can knock Iron Maiden for the sound track?
A couple years back I took the family to France and I walked Omaha Beach (yeah, from the water line to the cliffs where the gun emplacements were set up was an incredible distance away), Point Du Hoc (those cliffs were unbelievably high),Sainte-Mère-Eglise, and Caan (Great war museum). Walking that beach was surreal. The cemetery (grounds are impeccable) was a moving experience. The free world owes their very existence in what happened here 67 years ago today:
Sixty-seven years ago, free men of America, Great Britain, Canada, and Poland-in-exile stormed the shores of Normandy into the teeth of Adolf Hitler’s Fortress Europe. The losses at Omaha Beach especially were astounding; over 4400 Allied servicemen died in the assault, and 7500 more were wounded or went missing. Americans made up almost two-thirds of the overall casualties (over 6600). The German casualty figures were never known, but estimates range from 4000 to 9000. But that was just the first day of the Battle of Normandy. By the time Normandy was secured, over 425,000 casualties had been inflicted on both sides, 209,000 by Allied forces. Another 200,000 troops were captured by the allies. The French paid a price, too; over 15,000 civilians were killed in the Battle of Normandy.
I use to know a superior court judge who was one of the Army Rangers that scaled those cliffs at Point De Huc, good judge, he died about 6 years ago, not very many left.
We should never forget the sacrifices made on this day, made mostly by guys just like us. There is a great line penned by Stephen Ambrose, probably the best historical writer concerning this time period, about boys that went from throwing baseballs to throwing hand grenades. They did it because they could, they were there, they did not curse the fates for the timing, but accepted what was required of them.