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June 6, 1944 D-Day

June 7, 2012 - Michael Palmer
June 6, 1944 D-Day (Operation Overlord), the Allied invasion of Normandy, France.

This was the largest invasion fleet that the world had ever seen and most likely will ever see. The day came and went in the capitol with no recognition from the White House.

As a selective history fan, this is one of those days I mark on my yearly calendar. I used to watch the History Channel or an old WWII movie on television or VCR tape, but now I have a new standard for “experiencing” what it would have been like to land on Omaha Beach.

The movie “Saving Private Ryan” is a must watch on June 6. The Amazon,com review says, “When Steven Spielberg was an adolescent, his first home movie was a backyard war film. When he toured Europe with Duel in his 20s, he saw old men crumble in front of headstones at Omaha Beach. That image became the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, his film of a mission following the D-day invasion that many have called the most realistic--and maybe the best--war film ever. With 1998 production standards, Spielberg has been able to create a stunning, unparalleled view of war as hell. We are at Omaha Beach as troops are slaughtered by Germans yet overcome the almost insurmountable odds.”

In addition to the withering machinegun fire and shells exploding on the beach there was also sea sickness as an aid to the German defense. As a sufferer of this condition, I can say it is quite debilitating.

One can imagine that this was your first combat experience and the surreal experience of the landing with the death and carnage over the 1000 yards ahead would only be possible to face if you could jump over the side of the landing craft and get free of your heavy battle gear before drowning.

As you watch the landing scene in the movie, it is unbelievable that anyone could have survived the experience. One veteran of Omaha Beach can only explain it as just plain “Dumb luck,” that he made it to the sand dunes on the other side of the beach safely when so many of his company did not.

I would really like to be able to visit the D Day, now WWII Museum in New Orleans in 2014 for the 70th Anniversary commemoration.

If not then, someday I would like to visit and experience the many different exhibits. It is an important place in so many ways and we should take a moment to reflect on those brave service men and women who fought a war on two fronts to preserve our freedom.

Lest We Forget -

 
 

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