It seems so long ago, 75 years does, and yet it feels like only yesterday that Mom, Dad, Brother John and I sat in front of our RCA radio listening to the reports, looking at maps, which were the front page of every newspaper in those days of “Can our boys do it?, Can we win? Will Ike win the day?”. So many fears, prayers, joys and sorrows were launched from the shores of England that day, and everyone in the world stood still, waiting for the verdict of the “Longest Day”.
That “bastard Hitler” was beginning to feel the sting of Allied determination. He was beaten in Africa, he was beaten in Italy, he was beaten on the Eastern Front and he had one last chance, England and the Western Front to make his final stand. On that momentous day over 150,000 sea sick Allied soldiers (From England, Canada and the United States) charged from the LST’s; wading 200 yards with full pack in the chest deep Channel surf; then through 200 yards of mines, hedgehogs exposed beaches, runnels, razor wire; then 200 yards of open beach, in a hail of crossfire, and then scale 100 to 170 foot tall cliffs to accomplish the days mission and secure the blood stained beaches code named Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah. Close your eyes and make that run in your minds eye, hear the bullets whizzing by, feel the cannon and mortar concussion, smell the cordite, hear the yells and screams, experience the fear. My God what those boys went through. Canada gave 1,000, England gave 2,700 and we gave 6,600 of our courageous young men, most under 20 years old, to the fight that day and 6,500 gallons of prescious young blood, soaked those god forsaken sands.
My wife and I toured those hallowed grounds back in 1978. I tried to film the white crossed graveyard at Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. Before I could pan 10 feet of that sacred ground, my lens fogged up and I began sobbing uncontrollably. I dropped to my knees, I could only cry for those wonderful boys I never knew, but loved like family. It gave me peace.
Today there are 450,000 (RRS Sunday Supplement 6/2/19) of those heroic men that marched to victory across the D-Day Beaches remaining today. Most in their nineties. They are dying at the the rate of 362 per day. As an American, you should travel to Normandy and pay homage. If you can’t do that, seek out one of those remaining heros (Start at the Veterans Groups in your Town or City), shake his hand and thank him for giving you everything you are today, and pray for those you can’t thank personally. You’ll be very glad you did.