Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6, 1944

"There have only been a handful of days since the beginning of time on which the direction the world was taking has been changed in one 24-hour period by an act of man. June 6, 1944, was one of them.

"No one can tell the whole story of D-Day. Each of the 60,000 men who waded ashore that day knew a little part of the story too well. To them the landing looked like a catastrophe. Each knew a friend shot through the throat, shot through the knee. Each knew the first names of five hanging dead on the barbed wire offshore, three who lay unattended on the beach as the blood drained from the holes in their bodies. They knew whole tank crews who drowned when their tanks were unloaded in 20 feet of water.

"There were heroes here no one will ever know because they're dead. The heroism of others is known only to themselves.

"What the Americans and the British and the Canadians were trying to do was get back a whole continent that had been taken from its rightful owners. It was one of the most monumentally unselfish things one group of people ever did for another.

"It's hard for anyone who's been in a war to describe the terror of it to anyone who hasn't. How would anyone know that John Lacey died in that clump of weeds by the wagon path as he looked to his left towards Simpson and caught a bullet behind the ear? And if there had been a picture of it - and there weren't any - it would've shown that Lacey was the only one who carried apples for the guys in his raincoat pocket.

"If you think the world is rotten, go to the cemetery at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer on the hill overlooking the beach. See what one group of men did for another, D-Day, June 6, 1944."

- Andrew Rooney (1919-2011)


Gracie's Mom said...

I am only 51, but when I was a child we lived in Europe. I played in some concrete bunkers that were in a farmers field when I lived in Wassenaar near the Hague; some still had old blood staining the walls. I was also taken to Dachau and saw the gas chambers, the ovens and the museum with huge photo's of the camp during the war. The story of lamp shades made with human skin are true; I saw them. I hope the atrocities of war are never forgotten, and never repeated. Just reading or seeing anything about D-Day brings me to tears.

Anonymous said...

Left me in tears too.

Kris C. said...

Thank you for posting this. Both my grandfathers served in this war (though both were fortunate enough to come home). May the horrors and the heroism of World War II never be forgotten.

bobbie said...

Chills & tears ~ I knew you would post something perfect today.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

And, we cannot ever repay them. I just pray we pay it forward whenever and wherever we can.

Ms. Donna said...

Thank you.

Ivan Ilyich said...

Of all the WWII memoirs I've read, Andy Rooney's is the best.

Anonymous said...

This time last year I was tasked with sorting the pictures and translating saved letters of my husband's late Grandda.

Specifically I sorted pictures from Grandda's time as part of the liberation forces of Auschwitz, then when he returned twice in subsequent decades to remember.

I held part of history in the box and the memories of a man I never knew. It contained letters he wrote to keep in touch with fellow servicemen, or letters to their widows, and one bundle showing correspondence with a survivor of Auschwitz.

When I was done, my husband met me with a glass of wine and just hugged me. He told me that no one else in the family had the stomach to invade their memories of such a happy man with such sorrow, which is why I was asked to do it.

The greatest generation is no exaggeration. This man considered himself no hero; just a guy, who his family loved dearly.

But to me, who never knew him, and the Holocaust survivor, hero is the only word I know that can express the gratitude.

To all of them: thank you.

Lin said...

Both of my grandfathers fought as well, and my paternal grandmother was in the navy, I know no details because she passed away when my father was 7 but I have some photos of her in her navy uniform.

My maternal grandfather joined the army in Yugoslavia, he lied about his age claiming he was 17 when he was 16 to join and fight. My maternal grandmother talked a little bit about the blackouts in England during the war, she's from Yorkshire.

barefoot said...

My grandfather also lied about his age to enter the military at the age of 16. He ended up in the Pacific, and landed in the Marianas after the battle. He was unable to walk without walking on people, because so many had lost their lives. His boat was hit, and was floating on a board with shrapnel in his groin. In a twist of fate, a passing boat carrying a hometown friend noticed him and brought him aboard.

I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't read his military files. My grandfather developed emphesema and alcoholic cirrhosis at a young age by self-medicating. Dementia crept in at a young age as well, but he lived to a ripe old age.

I can't imagine what these men went through. I can't imagine the loss and pain on such a level.

CatHerder said...

My paternal grandpa was at the D-Day landing, I don't know exactly which beach. He supposedly lied about his age to join the war effort, too. He survived that day, and continued on under General Patton's command, to retake the continent.

I don't know many of the details, but I'm told he was a prisoner of war five different times, escaping somehow each time, though he never revealed how. The final time, while the Russian Army was moving in to take down Germany, they started shooting all the prisoners in the camp. The Russians arrived before they could shoot Grandpa.

I only got to meet him once and I don't remember it because I was a baby. He self-medicated heavily with alcohol and my mom was nervous about having her baby around him. I wish I'd been able to sit and interview him and just talk to him before he died.

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