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Thoughts on D Day
Old 06-05-2014, 01:15 PM   #1
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Thoughts on D Day

D Day remebers the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.. just 70 years ago. It brings back personal memories, as I was 7 at the time, and although we didnt know the details immediately, I can remember the news and the newsreels.

It was a time when gold star flags were in the front windows of many, many homes...

I had three uncles in the war... Uncle Buddy in the Navy and Arthur and Jerry in the airforce.Buddy and Arthuur came through the war, but Jerry, who was 18, was a tail gunner in the "Reluctant Liz" a B24 that was shot down over Bucharest in the oil staging yards. The rest of the crew bailed out and became POW's, but Jerry and one other were MIA... when the plane crashed. Exactly 4 months before D-Day.

As kids, were alternated playing war and cowbvoys and indians, but after DDay, the country became more somber, and death more real.

Time has a way of glazing over the agonies of war, and there is a tendency for younger generations to see war and death through cloudy glasses.

Sacrifice is sacrifice, whether through war or auto accident, but the sheer scope of casualties in these realatively short wars is a perspective that if often forgotten today.

War Casualties - direct or indirect reated to the war.

WWII 1939 1945 60 to 84 million
WWI 1914 1918 16 to 40 milion
Korean war 1950 1953 1.2 million
Iran -Iraq 1980 - 1988 1MILLION
Vietnam 1955-1975 800k TO 3.8 MILLION
American Civil War 1861-1865 750K
Afghanistan 2011 - present 47K -61K

Over the past 15 years, I was fortunate to be friends with three veterans of WWII who were willing to share their war experiences. One of these is still alive, and will be in Normandy tomorrow. Another was a firefighter at Pearl Harbor, and the third was a Paratrooper who participated in the drop at St. Lo. (He passed away this past year and had a book and movie made of his wartime experiences "Howard the Hero".)

No reason for posting this here, except to share the bits and pieces of life that influence my own sadness about the results of war, and to put some numbers on the losses in recent wars. I think those who are my own age, may be more aware of the social devastation that results in the civilian population, when death and maiming come close to home, rather than a name at the end of a TV program, or a note in the newspaper.

I have a good friend who looks on DDay, VJ Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day... not as celebrations, but as time for reflection.
.................................................

Normandy:
Today, twenty-seven war cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 dead from both sides: 77,866 German, 9386 American, 17,769 British, 5002 Canadian and 650 Poles.
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:26 PM   #2
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Thank you Imoldernu It is important for us not to forget

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Old 06-05-2014, 05:17 PM   #3
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My Mom's birthday is D-Day. She told me this story about getting all prettied up in a party dress and going to school. Her teacher (rightly) said, "Do you know what those boys are going through".

She was crushed, but the ones that needed a pounding got it, in my opinion.
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Old 06-05-2014, 05:34 PM   #4
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Our country will always be in their debt. Personally I'm amazed that they took the beaches as quickly as they did with all the tactical errors made during the pre-invasion bombardment. Hardly any of the naval guns hit the German bunker emplacements and due to overcast sky's, the thousands of tons of bombs dropped by wave after wave of planes fell well inland off their mark. In addition, the swimming tanks sunk and were unable to provide needed firepower on the beach. No wonder the GI's came up with SNAFU and FUBAR.
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Old 06-05-2014, 05:36 PM   #5
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I just watched a couple of episodes on History channel on WWII. One of my favorite memories of Mom and Dad is going through the Truman Museum. We asked questions all day about what life was like in the war years. They had the 2 eldest kids and were really just getting started in life.

Thanks for kickstarting the personal memories, and for the memories of those fallen.
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Old 06-05-2014, 05:38 PM   #6
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Watching Band of Brothers this week as a reminder. Respect and gratitude.
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:04 PM   #7
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Every day there are fewer and fewer of these veterans left. The gratitude is enormous. My dad who will be 93 next month is a Pearl Harbor survivor. His job after the attack was filling the body bags. These veterans did what had to be done in both Europe and the Pacific. They served with honor.
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Old 06-05-2014, 09:28 PM   #8
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They were men braver than I ever have been or ever will be, and I am eternally grateful.

On a personal note -- at that time, my English grandmother was a widow with 3 frightened children in London. During the Blitz, they had been bombed out of their house three times by the Germans and my grandfather had been killed. My American grandfather and his brothers, my great uncles, did not land on the beaches that day, but followed soon after and fought their way across France and into Germany. The trauma was so great that my grandfather was never able to reintegrate into society when he came back; he left his family and became a recluse in Mexico. I met him only once, and he seemed haunted to me. My great uncles were more sociable, but they never spoke about what they had seen and done.
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Old 06-06-2014, 05:50 AM   #9
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If Normandy is anything like Pearl Harbor this may very well be the last big commemoration which includes a significant turn out of veterans. After the 70th anniversary the Pearl Harbor survivors group disbanded as did the Doolittle raiders.

There will probably still be a handful a veteran for the 75th anniversary but enlisted guys are now 88 at least and the vast majority of officers are 92+ years old in 5 years none of the senior enlisted or officer will around.

So if you get a chance to watch any of today's ceremonies, this is probably going to literally be your last chance to see the greatest generation at their finest hour.

I'll watch the ceremonies and also Saving Private Ryan.
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:56 AM   #10
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We visited Omaha Beach four years ago. I was surprised at how open and uphill the men had to go, ever under fire. Then there were the concrete bunkers the Nazis were using. I think it was much harder than the movies can portray. Talk about brave. These veterans deserve all the honors they get.

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Old 06-06-2014, 11:02 AM   #11
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Yes the breadth of the beach was humbling considering they were totally in the open under enemy fire.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:12 AM   #12
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My thoughts as a British citizen living in the US is that you'd think it was only Americans on the beaches.....I wish there was even a brief mention of Sword, Gold and Juno and the British, Australians, Canadians an other nations who made up the majority of the forces. I understand that the US will concentrate on their own troops, but some in the US actually believe D-Day was just a US operation.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:15 AM   #13
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The primary reason they are referred to as the greatest generation. My Dad was there and never wanted to talk about it when I was a kid, and he was gone before I grew older and would have wanted to ask him questions about what he went through.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:47 AM   #14
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My thoughts as a British citizen living in the US is that you'd think it was only Americans on the beaches.....I wish there was even a brief mention of Sword, Gold and Juno and the British, Australians, Canadians an other nations who made up the majority of the forces. I understand that the US will concentrate on their own troops, but some in the US actually believe D-Day was just a US operation.
It's always been my understanding that Omaha beach was the most difficult landing, due to the higher cliffs and the fact that much of the pre-invasion bombing was off the mark and ineffective there. This made for the best movie action and story, so it's understandable that this is what people most think of with D-Day. All of the forces should certainly be honored as they all went into a very dangerous situation with a lot of uncertainty. The Omaha beach attackers seem to have had to overcome the most adversity, for whatever that's worth. It's also true that US forces did not make up half of the total, but there were more than any other country (UK being a close second). If I'm mistaken on any of this, I'd like to learn where.

People don't talk about Utah beach that much either, so I don't think this is really just an Americanized view of D-Day. Also, I usually hear about the "Allied forces" landing at Normandy, not "American forces". Maybe some don't understand what Allied means in this context but the intent to include all is there.

When I've been to London I've really enjoyed going to the Imperial War Museum and the Cabinet War Room bunkers to get a different view of the war. I don't really care to visit Russia that much but if I did I would really like to see more on their part in the war.
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Old 06-06-2014, 01:31 PM   #15
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It's always been my understanding that Omaha beach was the most difficult landing, due to the higher cliffs and the fact that much of the pre-invasion bombing was off the mark and ineffective there. This made for the best movie action and story, so it's understandable that this is what people most think of with D-Day. All of the forces should certainly be honored as they all went into a very dangerous situation with a lot of uncertainty. The Omaha beach attackers seem to have had to overcome the most adversity, for whatever that's worth. It's also true that US forces did not make up half of the total, but there were more than any other country (UK being a close second). If I'm mistaken on any of this, I'd like to learn where. People don't talk about Utah beach that much either, so I don't think this is really just an Americanized view of D-Day. Also, I usually hear about the "Allied forces" landing at Normandy, not "American forces". Maybe some don't understand what Allied means in this context but the intent to include all is there. When I've been to London I've really enjoyed going to the Imperial War Museum and the Cabinet War Room bunkers to get a different view of the war. I don't really care to visit Russia that much but if I did I would really like to see more on their part in the war.
I agree with your points and numbers. My understanding is that Omaha was the toughest, and so makes the best movies. Saving Private Ryan is a great movie and Band of Brothers is a great series, but they depict small slices of the conflict. Maybe "The Longest Day" gives a fuller picture of D-Day. We also forget that The Soviet Union lost far more men than any other country and did more damage to Germany than all of the other Allies. The Russians don't even call the war World War 2. To them it's "The Great Patriotic War". And maybe the most amazing bit of the war was how the Russians defeated the Japanese in Manchuria right at the end. I'm mindful of how much bravery and sacrifice occurs in war, but I'm also wary of how nationalism, political expediency, and unwittingly warped perspectives influence how history is presented. D-Day would not have been possible without the US, but that also could be said for the British, Canadians and Australians and the smaller contingents of Poles, Dutch, Free French etc. I think most Americans don't realize that Americans were less than half of the D-Day forces.
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Old 06-06-2014, 01:44 PM   #16
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Agree Nun, it took all the allies to come together and make D -day work. Also sacrifices by the folks at home, rationing of materials, getting blitzed. I've seen some photos in the UK(St. Pauls) of the blitz. Photos can't adequately describe the horror. There was a whole generation making sacrifices, one both sides of the pond.
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Old 06-06-2014, 02:06 PM   #17
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When I've been to London I've really enjoyed going to the Imperial War Museum and the Cabinet War Room bunkers to get a different view of the war. I don't really care to visit Russia that much but if I did I would really like to see more on their part in the war.
My father-in-law was a Royal Marine in WW2 but not involved in the D-Day landings. My own father was too young by a few years to be involved thankfully. I really enjoy the Imperial War Museum as well and have been lucky enough to visit the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Kiev, Ukraine which is spectacular. Interestingly, the Soviets consider this war to be 1941-1945 just as most Americans consider WW2 to be the same period. The rest of the world had been at war since 1939 of course. The British did a good job holding on but the sacrifices made by the Soviet Union are truly staggering. The quote often attributed to Yamamoto (although perhaps not actually spoken by him) regarding 'having awoken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve', always seems apropos for certainly without America's industrial might (huge amounts of equipment going to various Allies - most notably the Soviet Union in the early days), capital and manpower the war might not have been won. Truly, the greatest generation. Thanks to each and everyone of them for making their sacrifices.
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Old 06-06-2014, 02:17 PM   #18
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The Military History channel has had a great video review of D-day recently. I can't help but put myself aboard one of those landing crafts or planes making the assault on Normandy. Scary stuff that the greatest generation did for all of us.
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Old 06-06-2014, 06:56 PM   #19
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My uncle was crew on an LST. His was hit by something - artillery? - and he ended up in the water. He was fished out wounded, brought back to England, and mustered out a few months later.

He had only been in the navy a short time before the invasion. So he only saw one day of action, but it was a big one.

He died in 2010, still had a bit of a limp.
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Old 06-06-2014, 08:25 PM   #20
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I watched a bit of the D-Day remembrance on the BBC. Of course the Queen lived through the war and her husband, Prince Phillip, is a WWII veteran himself. He's 92 and it was touching to see him talking to the other 80 and 90 year old veterans of D-Day.
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