Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I'm a bout a day late...but check out these amazing color photos at TIME, taken of before and after the invasion code named Operation Overlord.


  1. D Day.

    My father was still alive when the ceremonies were held for one of the anniversaries (40th or 50th, not sure, getting old myself ;-)think it was the 40th) and he had planned to go.
    He'd been in the second wave, first day, Utah Beache, Tare Green. I have his map and the actual orders for his unit.

    He was sort of nonplussed to find out that no actual veterans of the action were permitted within miles of the place while the ceremonies were going on (security, you know), many of the "dignitaries" weren't even born at the time, and every one of the French "dignitaries" who had been alive had, in fact, been members of the Vichy gov't. Oh, well.

    In the mid 1950s we were stationed in Germany and my father took a leave and "retraced his steps" as many did back then. We went to England, then were on the beach in Normandy, and he was pointing things out.
    He said he had stopped being afraid almost immediatly.
    He saw guys running,zig-zagging, laying low, hiding. Some were hit, some were not.
    He saw guys walking, standing, acting like they were on a street corner.
    Some were hit, some were not.
    We were actually standing an a patch of beach he had walked over when he lost his fear. He told us that he had been walking to a CP location and noticed things, body parts sticking up through the rather churned up beach material.
    He found out that the rockets fired from an American LST had fallen short and landed on an American battalion and he was literally walking through the mush that was left.
    Somewhere in his synapses, that, with what he saw happening around him made him simply unafraid, indifferent, he had a job to do, just do it as long as he could.
    He said he mainly looked at the smashed equipment, burning fuel, a pool of blood where the medical supplies had been hit by something. Marveled at how much all this had cost and it was lying wrecked, never used.

    But, there was another family there, up above the wall, a man, his wife, and children about the age of my sister and I.
    He was a German, had been in a machine gun emplacement, had hed a shell from a ship land on the emplacement, and he was the lone survivor. Had been wounded very badly. Spent the war in a prison camp after he got out of the hospital.

    What I remember was that when we walked past them, my mother and the German woman exchanged a "look". The one that says, "The Men Are At It Again When Do They Stop Thinking About This..."

    That's the difference between reading the history, and the experience that shapes your life and thoughts til the day you die.

  2. Much administration for your father. My Grandfather (RIP) was in the Pacific, and though my own experiences in war have taught me the realities versus the pop-culture glory....I can't begin to imagine what those guys went through.

    And I'm unfortunately not surprised at the attitude of keeping actual veterans away from the ceremonies, in lieu of 'important attendees'.

    I have tried whenever possible, to seek out the forgotten battlefields, to remember those who fought before us...away from the monuments and museums. One of my most memorable visits was outside of Bastonge Belgium. A trip down a couple of country roads, with no markers or signs, the original foxholes of the 101st ABN are still present, where they made the stand during the battle of the bugle.

    It was a quiet and solitary moment of reflection, sitting on the rim of some of the fighting positions, away from any tourists and noise. My wife and I wish we would have brought a bottle of wine or beer, to commemorate their sacrifice and to toast their memories.

  3. I play taps at funerals, locally, and I'm doing a lot for WWII veterans.

    Viet Nam ones are starting to accelerate their pace, and some folks want a Viet Nam vet to play, so I do when I can.

    There had been a funeral a distance away from one I was playing at, a veteran had died, and the local VFW had provided the honor guard, firing party, and "bugler".
    They got done, and ours got started, and I played "taps", different post did the firing/flag thing. I noticed, though, that the other people were looking over, and speaking rather animatedly to the VFW guys that were doing their funeral.

    Five men came over, all officers, and asked if I would play taps at their father/grandfather's grave.
    I walked over, they had unfolded and re-laid the flag on the coffin, repositioned the details, and thanked the "bugler" for his efforts, but the col. said, "Gentlemen, let us please do it in a fitting manner"?
    Their "bugler" had a real horn, but it had a recording built into it, and damn! do they sound cheesy.
    So, they did it again.

    In the early 1950s we were stationed at Ft. Myer and we lived on South Post which is now incorporated into the cemetary. My father is actually buried about a three minute walk from the site of our quarters, some of the landmarks are still there. Used to play. quite clandestinely, in the cemetary. It was cooler there.

    My youngest son will be home soon, but he is stationed at Sigonella, Sicily, and has been asked, in his travels, to take pictures of graves in overseas cemetaries to send to people and even decorate sent him money to decorate them.
    One of my uncles, now dead, sent him some money and requested the same for some of his friends who had been in the 1st Special Service Force.
    This cemetary is near Nettuno, and my uncle had been wounded, was hospitalised, but was ambulatory and required to attend the dedication which had a lot of brass and dignitaries there.
    My uncle told me, and wrote in the letter to my son about that dedication, which he read when they had decorated and taken the pictures.
    Lucian Truscott, who had commanded 3rd ID, got up to speak, but he turned his back on the audience. Spoke to the graves, thanked the occupants, regretted what had to be done, actually apologised to them.
    My uncle said the VIPs and brass were shocked, outraged, and scandalised at such a breach of protocol and etiquette.

    My daughter-in-law told me that my son was in tears. She thinks it's a good sign. When Falujah intrudes too much he won't let anyone touch him. She was able to comfort him this time.
    Maybe Truscott and the others reached out and gave him a helping hand.


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