Went off along for a two day tour of the D-Day beaches.You wouldn’t say “fun”; it was much, much too serious for that., But SO worth doing. I was 9 on D-Day and have a lot of memories of the war. From the earliest days (1939) of being terrified that German sea planes would land near our home on Lake Winepesauke (my parents reassured me but who knew?) By the time of the invasion, I knew every plane and most of the ships on both sides… certainly knew what an LST and LCVP were (the landing craft for tanks and personell on D Day). But it mostly seemed like a great adventure to a little kid.
It did not seem like a great adventure, on the actual beaches. It seemed terrifying. Omaha in particular (the most deadly) was horrifying. I have been walking Atlantic beaches all my life and this one was like any other. Except that you knew that a thousand or so young Americans were coiled up against a very low rise at the edge of the sand. And that some 800, meticulously dug-in Germans were shooting at them, with deadly effect, from only about a hundred yards away. A huge number were killed on Omaha and one is only surprised it wasn’t more.They were SO close, and the German fortifications and arms were so deadly. And, of course, the Americans eventually did over-run the thick cement bunkers… killing everyone inside. Just wild to see it, almost live. And the fortifications – and the cliffs – at Point du Hoc…. almost incredible to think that Ranger teams climbed up those kills…drove Germans out of those huge, deeply re-inforced redoubts. Enormous bombs did no good… it took soldiers with small arms, up close.
You always hear this but, sure enough, at the grave yards one does weep. Just can’t help it. And when you see the simple grave of Brigadier General Teddy Roosevelt – this wildly brave, sick and very old (56) guy who was the only general in the first wave, you weep again. Such a good guy. He was one of three in that cemetary with a Medal of Honor. Deserved it too, by heaven.
You don’t want to miss this… one of the great moments and one of the great cites in modern American life. Look at the enormous gun in the photo. Think those walls were thick? Oh yes. Almost invulnerable… and so deadly. Our tanks (see pic) less so. Do come and see it. Amazing courage in the ultimately worthwhile fight.