D-Day: I Cannot Imagine …..

 

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to cross this expanse of sand, now known as Omaha Beach, which must have looked like miles of open space to those warriors who jumped into deep water with enormous weight strapped on their backs to start wading/swimming/paddling/dodging the firepower coming at them as they jumped into the Channel.

(Photo by author, July 2019)

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to look over at the next landing craft, which carried some of the best friends you made while preparing for this day, blown to hell and back.

I cannot imagine the last thoughts of those who faced the purest terror known to mankind, the Nazis, comfortably ensconced in their ten-foot walls of concrete bunkers above the beach, firing at will with every imaginable firearm made available by a desperate Hitler and Rommel.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to think these are my last minutes, last moments, last seconds, of life and to imagine leaving little children and a wife and the home we’d both worked so hard to acquire; to have it all taken away by (if I were lucky) one piece of lead coming unheard, unseen, invisible until it entered the head, exploding it ending whatever life I’d dreamt of.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like, if I were one of the lucky ones blessed enough to make it up to the mid-beach area, to look over and see my brother-in-arms turned into a pink mist by the incessant, uninterrupted stream of machine gun fire from those bunkers up the hill.

I cannot imagine the almost terminal surrender which must have gone through my mind if I were one of the few to make it up to the brush and tangled weeds covering the bluffs of Normandy there above Omaha Beach, or similarly difficult terrain at Utah Beach, Sword Beach, Gold Beach and Juno Beach.

I cannot imagine the courage, dedication to mission, the sheer, absolute devotion to duty it must have taken to be in one of the most miraculous contingents of warriors ever put together in one battle, The Rangers, who scaled the sheer cliffs of Pointe du Hoc under intense fire. The maneuver took most of those heroic Rangers out, but they reached the pinnacle. Their efforts were remembered by President Ronald Reagan on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day. The speech was one of the most moving remembrances in American history.

I can’t imagine what it must be like today for those few dozen survivors of June 6, 1944; to know that not only my time is near but that the time within which the world will remember the sacrifice there is slowly but surely coming to an end. Imagine how that must feel to have survived that hell on Earth after volunteering your life to fight for a dream, for a dream that’s beginning to fade away. I cannot imagine how that must feel.

But as hard as it is to imagine what it must have been like on those miles-wide beaches of Normandy on June 1044, I am heartened by the knowledge that many still remember our sacrifice in many commemerations being held on the anniversary of D-Day. As King Charles said yesterday in Portsmouth, they replaced “tyranny with freedom.”

80th anniversary of Normandy D-Day

I may not be able to imagine all these things from the vantage of the peaceful, serene, relatively secure, liberty-and-freedom-based life they have given me through their unimaginable sacrifice but I can send to them my eternal, lasting, boundless and everlasting appreciation for what they endured so that we might be free.

PA A Normandy veteran sat in a wheelchair attending the UK's national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day

I salute them with all the gratitude God has blessed me with, and with every single bit of love I have for those who, in the truest sense of the phrase, saved the world—and us— from the slavery and cruelty of Fascism.

I salute and thank the Warriors of June 6, 1944.

I thank them for their inestimable service.

May God Bless them and keep them in eternal life, and make light perpetual shine upon them.

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  1. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    I cannot imagine the courage, dedication to mission, the sheer, absolute devotion to duty it must have taken to be in one of the most miraculous contingents of warriors ever put together in one battle, The Rangers, who scaled the sheer cliffs of Pointe du Hoc under intense fire which took most of those heroic Rangers out, but who reached the pinnacle and whose efforts were remembered by President Ronald Reagan on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day in a speech which was one of the most moving remembrances in American history;

    Hard to believe that as of tomorrow we’re as far removed from that speech as that speech was from the actual event.

    • #1
  2. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    This is a video from the visitor center at Point Du Hoc.

    I’ve queued it up to the last five minutes.  I think I watched it three times in a row when we were there in 2015.

     

     

    • #2
  3. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Thank you for that brilliant, heartfelt reminder of what we owe to those men.

    • #3
  4. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Thank you for that brilliant, heartfelt reminder of what we owe to those men.

    Thank you, Jim. God rest their souls. 

    • #4
  5. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    I cannot imagine the courage, dedication to mission, the sheer, absolute devotion to duty it must have taken to be in one of the most miraculous contingents of warriors ever put together in one battle, The Rangers, who scaled the sheer cliffs of Pointe du Hoc under intense fire which took most of those heroic Rangers out, but who reached the pinnacle and whose efforts were remembered by President Ronald Reagan on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day in a speech which was one of the most moving remembrances in American history;

    The main highway through College Station, Texas and a building at Texas A&M are named for James Earl Rudder, the commanding officer of those rangers. He survived the war and went on to have a consequential postwar life in Texas government and as the president of Texas A&M University. He had the gravitas and political capital to force some much needed changes to the then provincial military cow college, and began its transition to a major research university.  He managed all that in a short 60 year life.

    • #5
  6. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    I cannot imagine the courage, dedication to mission, the sheer, absolute devotion to duty it must have taken to be in one of the most miraculous contingents of warriors ever put together in one battle, The Rangers, who scaled the sheer cliffs of Pointe du Hoc under intense fire which took most of those heroic Rangers out, but who reached the pinnacle and whose efforts were remembered by President Ronald Reagan on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day in a speech which was one of the most moving remembrances in American history;

    The main highway through College Station, Texas and a building at Texas A&M are named for James Earl Rudder, the commanding officer of those rangers. He survived the war and went on to have a consequential postwar life in Texas government and as the president of Texas A&M University. He had the gravitas and political capital to force some much needed changes to the then provincial military cow college, and began its transition to a major research university. He managed all that in a short 60 year life.

    Here is a photo I took on the D Day to the Rhine  tour in 2019 of the memorial to Col. Rutter and the Rangers at Pointe du Hoc. How a single Ranger survived that assault is quite simply a miracle. https://share.icloud.com/photos/061TV_Bhga-9u0XJmcxknACxg

    • #6
  7. Chris O Coolidge
    Chris O
    @ChrisO

    Thank you, Jim. As to remembrance, I reviewed Reagan’s 40th Anniversary address with my Speech class today, so at least one small band of 13-15 year-olds will have D-Day on their minds and perhaps remember this in the future. 

    It was interesting. I think one student was a little angry we were watching the speech (white, Republican President), but she listened and the words made a positive impression.

    • #7
  8. Chowderhead Coolidge
    Chowderhead
    @Podunk

    If anyone find themselves near Roanoke, VA you should visit the national D-day memorial. Well worth the trip.

    This is the last major anniversary any of them will witness.

     

    • #8
  9. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Chowderhead (View Comment):

    If anyone find themselves near Roanoke, VA you should visit the national D-day memorial. Well worth the trip.

    This is the last major anniversary any of them will witness.

     

    That touched my heart. 

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    A beautiful testament to these brave soldiers, Jim. Thank you.

    • #10
  11. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    From our trip to Normandy 2011:

    • #11
  12. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    EB (View Comment):

    From our trip to Normandy 2011:

    Standing on that sacred ground as I was fortunate to do in the Summer of 2019 is an indescribable experience, in the true sense of that word. That small chapel was a beautifully serene space, wasn’t it? I wish every single American citizen could go to those places as you are never the same about D-Day or the war in general after you’ve been there. 

    • #12
  13. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Amen.

    • #13
  14. God-Loving Woman Coolidge
    God-Loving Woman
    @GodLovingWoman

    https://theslacksite.com/campaigns-campaigns-of-normandy-and-northern-france/

    Here are some photos you might enjoy. They are from my uncles personal photo album. He is second from the right in the big photo of Third Army generals. 

    • #14
  15. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    I never understood how brutal that landing had been until Spielberg did the scenes up in a movie.

    My father had explained many times that this was a horrific day in our history. His telling of the day’s event included how  the men who landed at the beachheads knew for weeks ahead of time that their fate was most likely that they’d  be killed or seriously wounded.

    Until I saw Spielberg’s film, I thought this was survivor’s guilt, as he had trained for the landing. But a fellow service member had accidentally  dropped a shell on his foot a week prior to the event, so he was encased in a toe to hip cast and did not make it there.

    • #15
  16. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Editors/Administrators: the video of President Reagan was removed upon promotion; as it is a vital part of the post I would greatly appreciate its being put back in the post. Thank you, Jim

    • #16
  17. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    I never understood how brutal that landing had been until Spielberg did the scenes up in a movie.

    My father had explained many times that this was a horrific day in our history. His telling of the day’s event included how the men who landed at the beachheads knew for weeks ahead of time that their fate was most likely that they’d be killed or seriously wounded.

    Until I saw Spielberg’s film, I thought this was survivor’s guilt, as he had trained for the landing. But a fellow service member had accidentally dropped a shell on his foot a week prior to the event, so he was encased in a toe to hip cast and did not make it there.

    Praise God!

    • #17
  18. Chowderhead Coolidge
    Chowderhead
    @Podunk

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Editors/Administrators: the video of President Reagan was removed upon promotion; as it is a vital part of the post I would greatly appreciate its being put back in the post. Thank you, Jim

    Been there.

    • #18
  19. Steve Fast Member
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    Can you imagine being on the minesweepers that cleared the channels for the invasion fleet. According to Wikipedia, they started at midnight and worked until dawn and did not encounter the enemy; however, some vessels were sunk or damaged by mines. Amazingly the Germans didn’t fire on them, but I have to imagine that was terribly tense work, the danger being from the mines as well as enemy fire.

    As they cleared a channel, the dropped lighted buoys so that Allied shipping would know where to sail.

    Minesweeper USS Tide striking a mine on 7 June 1944 at Utah Beach. US Army photo Public Domain

    • #19
  20. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    There is a superb article entitled simply June 6th 1944, here, on Mark Steyn’s site and I cannot recommend it highly enough. One reason it hit home for me is that much of it is a discussion of the home of the Georges Gondree family and their cafe at the foot of the Pegasus Bridge. That bridge and establishment were one of the stops on the D Day to the Rhine tour I went on in the summer of 2019 and I was struck by this photo in Steyn’s post as it recalled the most pleasant visit we had at the cafe and learned the story of the Gondree family never letting a D Day veteran pay for his drink at the cafe:

     

    I believe, but cannot be certain enough to state it as a fact, that the gracious lady who waited on us that day was none other than Arlette herself. Quite an experience, to put it mildly. The Greatest Generation indeed. 

    • #20
  21. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    I saw a story pop up earlier today that a 102-year-old veteran making a trip to a memorial service, I believe in France, died before arriving there.

    • #21
  22. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Standing with Giants have installed a staggering 1,475 silhouettes across the wild meadow fields of the British Normandy Memorial called ‘For Your Tomorrow’.

     

    • #22
  23. Steve Fast Member
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    EB (View Comment):

    Standing with Giants have installed a staggering 1,475 silhouettes across the wild meadow fields of the British Normandy Memorial called ‘For Your Tomorrow’.

    Is that for the number of British casualties on D-Day?

    I’ve often wondered if D-Day was the bloodiest day of the war for  the Western Allies. Or maybe some of the Pacific assaults were bloodier.

    • #23
  24. Chowderhead Coolidge
    Chowderhead
    @Podunk

    EB (View Comment):

    Standing with Giants have installed a staggering 1,475 silhouettes across the wild meadow fields of the British Normandy Memorial called ‘For Your Tomorrow’.

     

    Thanks EB. Without them I wouldn’t have this with my granddaughter. This is Tomorrow…

    • #24
  25. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    Is that for the number of British casualties on D-Day?

    I’ve often wondered if D-Day was the bloodiest day of the war for  the Western Allies. Or maybe some of the Pacific assaults were bloodier.

    •  

    As I understand it, the casualties on D-Day.

    • #25
  26. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    EB (View Comment):

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    Is that for the number of British casualties on D-Day?

    I’ve often wondered if D-Day was the bloodiest day of the war for the Western Allies. Or maybe some of the Pacific assaults were bloodier.

    •  

    As I understand it, the casualties on D-Day.

    December 7th has to rank right up there.  Not just Pearl Harbor, but the same day attacks in the Philippines and elsewhere.

    • #26
  27. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Jim George (View Comment):

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    I never understood how brutal that landing had been until Spielberg did the scenes up in a movie.

    My father had explained many times that this was a horrific day in our history. His telling of the day’s event included how the men who landed at the beachheads knew for weeks ahead of time that their fate was most likely that they’d be killed or seriously wounded.

    Until I saw Spielberg’s film, I thought this was survivor’s guilt, as he had trained for the landing. But a fellow service member had accidentally dropped a shell on his foot a week prior to the event, so he was encased in a toe to hip cast and did not make it there.

    Praise God!

    I’d still be here if he hadn’t made it back, but I would have been adopted at the age of six weeks by another couple.

    My dad is perhaps the most influential person I’ve had the pleasure of having in my life. Moms are very important to a girl growing up. But a good daddy usually helps the young woman sort out the wheat from the chaff. (At least once she is over the  teenage/young adult  rebellion period.)

    • #27
  28. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    One of my uncles was an anti-aircraft gunner on an LST at Normandy.  His children didn’t even know, until not long before his death.

    https://ricochet.com/1000660/rip-arnold-larson/

    • #28
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