Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Day After D-Day

Many of the gun-blogs marked 6 June -- and it's a day to never forget. And yet-- War is a terrible business; its first and most evident product is dead and injured people, mostly -- but by no means exclusively -- soldiers.

That's not to say there's nothing worse; there are many things worse. The good guys go to war to stop them and pay a steep price in the doing.

Ernie Pyle stepped ashore in Normandy the day after D-Day; stepped ashore, saw the aftermath and later, let you look through his eyes.

(Article found both at Indiana University's J-school and on Free Republic, btw. There's a lesson there.)

8 comments:

Carteach said...

This week I am re-reading Ambrose Pierce's work, 'D-Day'. It's a well told and detailed account of the events before and during the battle.

Seems fitting.

TSG said...

I've read a lot of his writings. He made a priceless contribution to the history of WW2. What a legacy!

Bubblehead Les. said...

True Story Time. A few years back when I was doing WW2 Re-Enacting, I got the chance to set up a Static Display with my Buddies at our local Airshow. We decided to just lay out what the Ordinary G.I would be issued and carried in terms of packs, web gear, etc. and how it evolved over the War. My Buddy brought out his Medic setup, and we spent the weekend talking to people on what was what.

During the weekend, a Family stopped by, consisting of several generations. The elderly Grandpa glanced over the display, then saw the Medic stuff. He shuffled over, and started to go through it piece by piece. My buddy went over to explain it, and the old Gentleman stopped him, and said "I know what goes in it. Where's the Morphine?" My Buddy explained it wasn't there due to Federal Drug Laws. The old Gentleman said, "Well, other than that, you got it right. Looks like what I carried." We asked the old Gentleman when he carried this gear. He replied "From D-Day until I came Home along with the rest of the Big Red One."

I said "You made it off Omaha, Sir?" He scoffed and said '"Yeah, I was one of the Lucky Ones." He then sat down and stared to tell us what it was like for him on the Longest Day.

While he was talking, I noticed his Son, who was in his 60's, stared to cry. I turned to him and asked what was wrong. He took me aside and said this is the first time he EVER heard his Dad talk about the War.

So they spent some time with us that day, and the stories he told! But the thing that stood out in my mind about D-Day was when one of his young Great Grandsons asked if there were any War Movies that got it right. He paused, and then said "The opening of "Saving Private Ryan" was close, but they didn't give you the SMELL. But out of all of them I've seen, the one about Ernie Pyle called "The Story of G.I Joe" was the most Honest."

Then they had to leave, but when he arrived, the old Gentleman kind of shuffled up to the Display. When he left, he was Walking, Heads Up, Shoulders Back, and surrounded by his Loved ones, acting like he helped to save the World, and could now show it.

Which the Greatest Generation did. God Bless them all.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

While he was talking, I noticed his Son, who was in his 60's, stared to cry. I turned to him and asked what was wrong. He took me aside and said this is the first time he EVER heard his Dad talk about the War.

My Dad died at 76 when I was 42. He didn't go in on D-Day, it was closer to Christmas (and he was supposed to have gone in on the Leopoldville, but he and a buddy decided to stay with their Jeep and mortar on the equipment transport -- and saved themselves a chilly swim later that night). And other than some comments he made over the years that suggested it was at the same time one of the best and one of the worst times of his life, he really never talked about it much.

Thanks for that, Les. I can surely identify with that man's son.

Tam said...

"Then they had to leave, but when he arrived, the old Gentleman kind of shuffled up to the Display. When he left, he was Walking, Heads Up, Shoulders Back, and surrounded by his Loved ones, acting like he helped to save the World, and could now show it."

*doffs cap*

God bless you, sir.

Roberta X said...

Wow.

Robin said...

A great movie that is not as appreciated as it should be is "The Story of GI Joe".

Robert Mitchum, Burgess Meredith (playing Ernie Pyle) and Pyle consulted on it before going to the Pacific where he was killed on Ie Shima.

mikee said...

My high school principal, a tall, slender Black man of quiet demeanor and absolute authority, went ashore at Normandy on the 3rd day after the invasion. He was in an all Black unit whose job was to clear the beaches of the dead. It was not pleasant work, to say the least.

I learned this when, I chose a student picture of Hamlet's Ophelia, floating dead in the water, for a student publication's cover art. He told me he hated it, and then told me why.

I was 17 years old, and had never been more moved in my life than by his reverential recollection of those days in June 1944.

It was not just one day of invading Europe.