They said the LST could ride higher in the water when landing in trim. She hit the sloping beach, and the bow door fell and disgorged jeeps and tanks and finally men with hands to work. It was gray all round, the water, the sky, ship after ship beside, around, and behind as far as he could see, if he dared to look back.
He looked forward only. German mortar and artillery shells exploded, but he looked forward only—wreckage, strewn wreckage of metal, of flipped, ripped jeeps, of wire, of bodies, whole and fallen, of twitching pieces, arms here and legs there, of detached trunks spilling guts, of oozing, foaming blood.
His automatic-motion hands dragged and patched the broken living and passed them to other hands that stretchered them up the ramp.
The day thundered, but he distanced the noise. He heard nothing but the whir in his brain, punctuated by hoarse yelling or screaming. His hands, now practiced, moved with machine-like precision.
He paused once. Why Omaha? A city in a golden prairie sea. Why Utah? A land-locked state and a salt lake? But this Omaha, this Utah, opened to a dead sea.
My parents and I traveled to the beaches in September 1994. Low clouds hung dully. My father glanced at the tourists wandering about. “It’s so empty,” he said. “The sea, the sea—it’s so empty.”
My father nodded. “Then we thank you,” the stranger said. “I am part of a group who makes pilgrimages to such places. I look out to that water and thank all those lost boys—all those innocent souls who lost their lives ahead—and say a prayer.”
Patches from My Crazy Quilt © 2014 Catherine Hamrick. All rights reserved.
Original invasion footage by The Daily Telegraph
Reel America: D-Day to Germany
In a hail of fire, Piper Bill Millin played troops forward on Sword Beach
World War Two through Robert Capa’s Lens
A Walk in Ernie Pile’s Footsteps
How Soon Will We Forget?
From the Op-Ed “D-Day Highlights Historical Illiteracy” (The New York Dispatch) by Daniel Burnett, American Council of Trustees and Alumni
–Just 40 percent of Americans know that June 6 is the anniversary of D-Day.
–Not even half know that the president at the time was Franklin D. Roosevelt.
–Among college graduates: 55 percent know today is the anniversary, and 57 percent know Roosevelt was president.
–Only 17 percent of college graduates knew the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation, and only two in five knew the Battle of the Bulge occurred in World War II.
–Only five of the top 50 public universities in the country require even one survey course on American history or government.
In recent years, undergraduate students have bragged to me that they do not need “useless” composition courses. Are history courses just as pointless?