A couple of summers ago I my wife and I had the good fortune to travel through Europe free as chaufeurs and security for a group of high school students. Anyway, I and the assistant principal of the students of the trip had the good fortune to break away from the group for a day, and take a tour bus to Normandy Beach with some other Americans.
To see the beach and all the historic items including actual film footage of troops being mowed down like grass, and all the carnage was very moving. The amount of crosses of just the American troops, and what state in the U.S. they were from also leaves you very moved. It's appears to be an almost endless sea of crosses. Farther inland there are old span bridges no longer in use that still have bullet holes and dents and schrapnel from that historic day. It's also a beautiful area with immaculate flax fields that go right up to the beach. If you get a chance you have to go.
There was a humorous moment though, and I do not mean to bring this up to in anyway diminish the scarifices made by our troops. I just thought some of you might get a chuckle out of this.
Like a lot of beaches in Europe Normandy Beach is a topless beach now. With one half of my family European I can tell some of you that bearing female breasts on the beach is no big deal with most Europeans. It's not sexual whatsoever. Anyway, as our tour bus was traveling parallel to the beach the female tour guide was incessently buzzing and pointing to where the German gun implacements were on the hill. As an astute observe of human behavior (LOL) I noticed something very curious. Not one male was looking at the gun implacements nor did they hear a word of what she was saying. All heads were turned gawking at a topless woman that nochanlantly faced the bus. Whenever I bring this up to others in the area they want to know if the assistant principal was gawking too. He and his wife are very moral and upstanding citizens of the community. Of course I say I don't remember. LOL
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You know it's a shame, that the only time people think of the troops from any of our wars, is on memorial day. And then again, most people think of memorial day weekend as just the start of summer. I also think it such a shame that it took so long to finally give the WW11 vet the reconition they deserve. I just lost an uncle a few years ago who won the silve star, bronze star, and 2 purple hearts. For his contrabution in ww11. And he always asked me why the ww11 vets never had any of the reconitions they deserved. I never could answer him. Now he's gone and I miss him terribly. I would have loved to take him to Washington to finally see his memorial.
Please everyone take a minute of your time this weekend and thank a vet.
And correct me if I'm wrong but the funds for these memorials are raised by the vets themselves? Not all of us just think of our soldiers only during Memorial Day. Not those of us that have served anyway.
I can see that some only think of it as the beginning of summer. Mostly what you hear from the media around Christmas is how retail sales are going.
Check this story out and see what you think. Sometimes I think our government is a bunch of boneheads.
My dad and two of my uncles survive, but there are 4 other uncles who did not get to see the tributes finally given to them. My dad always asked me the same question and he usually answered it before I could. He said, "I guess we were just too damned busy rebuilding the country to take time to do it." It still hurts to think those words and the truth in them. That generation did just that. The infrastructure of this country is STILL dependant on that generation and all the modern "advances" we enjoy were seeded by that generation.
I've seen Normandy, and Cecil's right. It almost makes you weak to look at the endless sea of crosses along those cliffs. But actually seeing the memorial is just as overwhelming. It's reverent, regal, and supremely patriotic. The Vietnam Wall overwhelmed me when I first visited it, but this monument is different. When you visit it and see the bas reliefs, the inscriptions, and the quotes from voices faded in the years, it's humbling to say the least. I'm just so thankful that SOME of those veterans lived to see it complete.
If any of you saw the Memorial Day Concert on PBS last night, I was just weakened when actor Charles Durning got up and spoke of HIS experience on Normandy. I could imagine his terror but I was amazed that "retreat" was never considered. He commented that a solder near him was hit with shrapnel spilling his intestines out in front of him on the beach. He looked over at Charles and said, "How am I ever going home looking like this. They'll never be able to get all that back inside me." And he died. How CAN we let Memorial Day mean just a picnic. The stories of that valor and the valor shown by Americans in all wars should be required reading for school kids everywhere. We need to make war so abhorable, so sickening, and so despicable that we'd think twice before entering into such frays. I feel secure that that generation DID do just that and they figured that it was worth that price. May they rest in peace now.
What they did on Normandy is nothing less the miraculous.
Cecil, maybe you should have taken some of the French to see it also, least they forget.
within arm's reach of where I'm typing right now. I'm not a veteran but my town is the town where Eisenhower was raised, his home is within sight of my front porch and my kids attend the same schools, albeit upgraded somewhat, that Ike attended many years ago. Most of America may have forgotten what Ike and those men and women did for this country, but not in Abliene. It's a part of us and we're reminded of it each and every day. My great uncle was in the invasion where on D-Day +1, he passed over the line into Nazi territory as a forward observer. He spent the next forty-two days within eyesight of the enemy mapping minefields, transmitting enemy troop locations, and guiding the artillery. In the months to follow, he was part of the rescue effort in the Battle of the Bulge and the invasion of Berlin. He was a very quiet man whose demeanor never spoke of the actions he took part in or the horrors he witnessed. It was only after he died, as we went thru his personal effects and spoke with his elderly neighbors - both veterans - that we learned of his experiences. For his efforts, he received the Bronze Star which is proudly displayed in my living room with the flag that draped his casket three years ago when he died. My grandmother, his little sister, recently died and this display case was willed to me because of my interest in the stories behind all it contained. It's displayed prominently in my living room where I hope it will spawn queries as to what the various medals mean and why he earned them. It includes a black and white picture of Pete lying on the ground in his battle gear, his arm wrapped around a young dog his squad had adopted as their mascot.
The only "off" remark I've received from anyone whose seen this case was from my neighbor who just got out of the Army and who just returned from a 9 month deployment in Iraq. He looked at the Bronze Star and muttered, "They give those out for just about anything anymore." I pulled the folded flag from its compartment and opened an envelope stored behind it where I withdrew a folded and yellowed paper listing the various towns, cities and villages my Uncle reconned. Places like Bastogne and Berlin, in countries like France, Luxembourg, Holland, and Germany. As he perused the listing of names and looked through the letters of commendation with notable names of officer's signed at their bottoms, I reminded him that there was a lot of difference between what he experienced in Iraq and what one man, with a 45-caliber sidearm, a Thompson machine gun and a radio man on foot without transportation sleeping for fifteen minutes at a time in the mud for six weeks surrounded by Nazi soldiers saw, did, and remembered. Not to minimize the efforts of our present military, because I hold them in the highest regard, but I don't think Mike saw anything in Iraq to compare with what my Uncle saw in Europe. Just my opinion. I may be wrong.
God bless the military, all you veterans, and may we all take time today to remember the last great measure of devotion made by so many to benefit each and every one of us, even those who might disagree with the reasons for which we are or have been there.
I don't think your neighbor meant any disrespect as I'm sure he's aware of what it took to earn a Bronze Star in that era. Sadly, he's correct in his statement, however, and Vietnam marked the turning point in criteria for such awards. Your loved one, by today's standards was probably eligible for a much more prestigeous medal. You should be very proud of him and cherish that award as I know of many heros who came back with nothing more than a campaign ribbon to signify their service.
ironically my Grandfather on the German side of the family saw U-boat duty. Maybe not honorable but the Grandfather deserted the German Army at some point and fled to Holland. They said he realized it was a lost cause. Apparently it was late enough in the war so there were no reprisals against the family. And directly related to the same German side of the family were relatives in Erie, PA of which one was a colonel in the America Army.
Dave, don't be to hard on all the French. Many of the WWII generation were very grateful we liberated them and their resistance movement sacrificed a lot. If they were caught not only were they tortured and executed but so were their relatives. They also rescued and smuggled out lots of our allied pilots. The country with the next most representation besides us in Afghanistan is France. IMHO, they knew better than to go into Iraq. Unlike our CIC they learned their lesson well in Vietnam and didn't forget it.
They, the FRENCH, didn't see any reason to resist Hitler either and actually set up a Viche government to support him if you recall. Thankfully, there WAS the resistance that a useless Charles DeGaul liked to take credit for that DID see that there are some things worth fighting for. Sounds as if we know where you got your attitudes from now.
Putting everyone into one category because they are from a particular country is not right and usually inaccurate. Case in Point: Would it be fair to put us all in the same category with the few troops that did the recent deeds at the Iraqi prison as many of the Arabs want to? I think not.
George, you're skimming history again. It's never black and white and is always more complex than it appears on the surface.
It's irrefutable. DeGaul was a pompous ass who refused to acknowledge that his own country had accepted the Vichy government and that but for a few lone French patriots, others had to free his country. Many Americans died at the hands of Frenchmen loyal to the Nazis and DeGaulle wanted to play God. Eisenhour was very magnamimous to his worthless hide by even allowing him to walk down the Champs ElyseesThe resultant situation with France is the same as it has been for time immemorial. The only war they ever won was the French Revolution and that would've been hard for them to do since it was a civil war. In MY opinion, France is commensurate with cheap (and expensive) perfume designed to hide the fact that they don't bathe and for the houses of ill repute that every GI relates to the smell of cheap perfume. The only admirable thing they ever did was give us the Statue of Liberty, but that came from an artist and not from any limp weasel politician.
French reaction of our war on terror isn't of any intelligencia, but rather that patent French arrogance that even has a law forbidding the use of "non-French" language in any of their official papers. That bastards are fortunate they aren't speaking Deutch and they owe THAT little "skim" of history to US, the British, and the Canadians who saved their sorry asses so they could colonialize the African continent and Southeast Asia.
Do some reading Cecil, you might find it very enlightening.
I'd rather leave the "skimming" to you while I use the facts and do not make generalizations or believe in stereotypes.
You can have the french. I for one do not and will not miss them.