This is one of the pictures I took of the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha beach last September.
Seventy-five years ago, on another June 6th, allied soldiers in the tens of thousands returned to France to finish Part B of the war my Grandfather had fought in 1918. This day in 1944 would be remembered more honestly than the vainglory reported back home from the First World War. A 42-year-old Indiana man wrote 700,000 words from the front and sent them to 400 newspapers back home. His name was Ernie Pyle. D-Day, however, called for a different kind of reporting. Pyle’s story is a fitting way to remember the men who died that day and every day of that war. Ernie would have understood the french woman who spoke on NPR this morning. A Normandy native she survived the invasion and walked along the beach after the battle just like Pyle did. Though she still lives within sight of the beach her memories of Normandy’s aftermath have made it impossible for her to bear walking along it for the last seventy-five years.
Here’s the first paragraph from today’s New York Times remembrance:
Most of the men in the first wave never stood a chance. In the predawn darkness of June 6, 1944, thousands of American soldiers crawled down swaying cargo nets and thudded into steel landing craft bound for the Normandy coast. Their senses were soon choked with the smells of wet canvas gear, seawater and acrid clouds of powder from the huge naval guns firing just over their heads. As the landing craft drew close to shore, the deafening roar stopped, quickly replaced by German artillery rounds crashing into the water all around them. The flesh under the men’s sea-soaked uniforms prickled. They waited, like trapped mice, barely daring to breathe.
Read it all: The Man Who Told America the Truth About D-Day