“A Road Trip-Memory of a Life-In Death”
The baseball pennant races were in high gear.
It was the opening weekend of the college football season.
It was NFL roster cutdown week and the start of the NFL season.
I couldn’t stay here, I had to go.
It was not really a vacation I took this past week from my website, and my freelance interviews with various stations I do.
It was a pilgrimage I had considered taking for more than a year, and it came about very quickly.
I owed it to myself, to my family, to my loved ones lost in military service.
I went to France, to visit Normandie, walk the D-Day Beaches at Omaha and Utah, reflect on life, my deceased father, and my uncles, who all served in World War II.
it was tearful, emotional, reflective. It was a salute to the courage they all showed during that entire 5-year war, and most especially those who landed June 6th 1944 and fought to free Europe and the world from tyranny over the final months of a terrible global conflict.
Below is the letter I wrote to my two sons, the night I came off a nearly 10-hour stay at that historic sight.
Spent the entire day at Normandie….
Most emotional-moving experience of my life…thought about my Dad in New Caledonia-Wake-Neumaier-Fiji…Vincent-paratrooper…Nick at Anzio…..Joe as a medic in Philippines…Phil in the Pacific…Jack in a foxhole in the Pacific…Smitty in B-17s over Germany…Vito in North Africa tank corps….Lawson as a communications specialist on a ship……our other uncles who died on Bataan…Regensburg…Battle of Bulge.
1-woman in our group, from North Carolina, her uncle died on Omaha Beach….they accompanied her to his graveside at the Beach….so classy.
We were also taken to the headstones of the ‘Bedford Boys’….if you remember 18-soldiers from Bedford, Virginia, died in the first hour of the Omaha beach landing…all from the same home town…Bedford is where the D-Day memorial was built just outside Roanoke, Virginia
They do a ceremony at 12-noon each day…played ‘Taps’…very moving…Each cross with the soldiers name-home state-day they died. We wept.
The hard to believe story of how they had just a 4-hour window to land troops at low tide-secure the beach and then begin the drive to move inland and unload the ships, build the mulberry bridges, sink the cement kasons…survive the gun shellings, and then the horrific weather that followed later that week.
The soldiers got to the bluffs, after landing at 6-30am…they got atop by 11am….at Point-du-Hoc, they took 90% casualties, but climbed the cliffs in 25-minutes to secure and knock out the gun sights shelliing Omaha and Utah.
The dichotomy….on this site….3,200 casualties just on D-Day……can you imagine the shore batteries attacking the beach….the smoke….the carnage….the bodies…the blood….the chaos…..that was the sound that day.
Then imagine today…ultimate silence-reverence-respect…no one talked…no one laughed….just complete silence with all of us looking at the 3500-crosses in the cemetery…
The American Cemetery cloaked in reverence. The German cemetary with 8,000-buried…no white crosses, just a black stone on each gravesite-with no identification.. ..Almost a symbol of good-vs-bad.
Being here flashes into your mind.
‘Freedom is not Free’….and you think of he courage of all those men to fight their way across the 450-yards of beaches under withering fire from the bluffs and hillsides, those who made their way up the draws, thru the hedgerows, to scale Point-du-Hoc, to put out the 88’s who were shelling the beaches and the landing crafts.
Indeed the Greatest Generation. I walked that beach-what an amazing symbol of courage.
What an experience.
I am back, and am posting all things sports on my website for your viewing now.
Lots to cover with the opening of the NFL season, college football, the baseball pennant races, and everything else..
Sports is important, always has been in my life and career. But what I experienced in France has made me feel different.
What an honor to be part of the next generation, brought into this world by the ‘Greatest Generation’, all those courageous men buried at the US-Cemetary at Normandie..