D-Day plus 70

Infantrymen from the Big Red One wade onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach early on  June 6, 1944.  During the initial landing, two-thirds of Company E became casualties. Photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Robert F. Sargent.

Infantrymen from the Big Red One wade onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach early on June 6, 1944. During the initial landing, two-thirds of Company E became casualties. Photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent.

Imagine you have just jumped off this ramp.

You are seasick.  Your heart is pounding.  Your back strains under a soggy pack that weighs a ton.  The water is cold.

And Omaha Beach is very, very hot.

June 6, 1944, was one of those dates we memorized as schoolboys: D-Day, the invasion of Europe.

For my whole life, there have been World War II veterans.  In my family, in my friends’ families, in their friends’ families.

But when I tried to find a D-Day veteran from Greater Morristown to interview for this 70th anniversary, the search was fruitless.

Time is doing what the Germans could not.

For Memorial Day, I was fortunate to meet an 88-year-old “Monuments Man,” and a 98-year-old veteran of the Battle of the Bulge who drove himself to the holiday service.

Sadly, these quiet heroes are becoming the exceptions.

The last veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg died in 1950 at the age of 102.

Before too much longer, we will live in a world without anyone who jumped off the ramp at Omaha Beach.

It’s hard to conceive what that plunge must have felt like. But it’s well worth pondering.

A D-DAY PODCAST FROM THE PRITZGER MILITARY MUSEUM

 

 

 

 

 



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