For most Americans today, what they know about Operation Overlord, which began in the pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944, 70 years ago, is probably what they glean from two movies shown mostly around Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.It has been 70 years since D-Day.
The 1962 docudrama, "The Longest Day," based on the 1959 book by Cornelius Ryan, covers the 24 hours from evening June 5 to evening June 6. The 1998 movie, "Saving Private Ryan," is a fictional story, using the D-Day landings as the historical setting, about a U.S. Army Ranger squad detailed to find the fourth son, an American paratrooper somewhere in Normandy, of a family who had already lost three sons to the war.
I've always marveled at the courage shown by the men that went ashore on D-Day. Facing entrenched German soldiers in fortified pill boxes with belt-fed machine guns, these guys went ashore with basically hunting rifles. Don't get me wrong; the Garand is a great rifle, but there's no way on G-d's Green Earth I'd want to face down an MG-42 with just a Garand.
And these guys jumped out of the boats, waded ashore, and were cut to ribbons by the thousands. And yet they still kept coming. Facing one of the most fearsome war machines the world has ever seen, these guys came ashore, killed the bad guys, freed prisoners, and basically saved the damn world. Not content with that, they came home, built the USA into the shining city on the hill, and retired to Florida.
There was a time when giants walked this earth, and seventy years ago many of them never came home.
That is all.