Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June 5, 1944

As is typical around here, when I need to find a book, I find lots of other interesting books that I really ought to read next, but rarely do I find the book I'm looking for.  This happened again today when I went looking for the 1959 history book The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan.  I know where it is; I just can't find it.  God help my daughter when it's time to clear out my garret.  I should tell her I left a $20 bill in one of the volumes, just to be sure someone flips through them all before they go to the landfill.

Anyway.  We are coming up on the 75th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy that would eventually lead to the liberation of Europe.  Here is what happened on June 5, 1944 according to www.dayinhistory.net:

World War II: 
More than 1000 British bombers drop 5,000 
tons of bombs on German gun batteries on the Normandy 
coast in preparation for D-Day.

They say that all Americans would benefit with a visit to Normandy.  I have yet to make the trip, but I have been to the Gettysburg battlefield.  It didn't help that I went in late October, close to Halloween, or that Gettysburg is in Pennsylvania, one of the spookiest states in the nation.  The place has a palpable feel to it.  You know you're not alone.

One thing about Gettysburg that I am sure is true of the beaches in Normandy: knowing what lay ahead of them, these men went anyway.

Today, we can find just about anything on the interwebs, including raw footage of the D-Day landings:

Rare color footage exists too, thanks to well-placed film directors who happened to be in the right place at the right time:

We also tend to forget, thanks to YouTube and the internet, that people sometimes got their news from clips shown in theaters before the feature film began:

All this film adds up to an astounding look at what we are capable of doing, both good and bad.
Let us remember, then, that these were our fathers and grandfathers going off to do what they had to do.  We'll never see their like again.