1-Man’s Opinion on Sports-Thursday. “D-DAY THIS DAY..1944”

Posted by on June 6th, 2024  •  0 Comments  • 


Hacksaw’s Great Sports Weekend Podcast-1pm-Thursday
You Tube Channel-Lee Hacksaw Hamilton

It was the most moving 24-hours of my adult life, because it involved the adults in my life, who experienced it.

Talking about my trip to Paris, and the destination, Omaha Beach, Normandy, a personal journey I felt I had to make.

As I have written before, my entire family has military DNA in their them.  A father in combat in the Pacific.  7-uncles who fought in all the theatres.  3-who died in combat.  Others whose lives forever impacted by what happened to them.

My brother, a 3-star General in the Army, went to Normandy in 1994 to take part in the 50th Anniversary of D-Day.  He told me I had to visit there too.  He was so moved by what he experienced, and this from someone who was at the Pentagon on 9/11, someone who was in combat in the Iraq-Afghan theatres.

I was prepared that my junket to the D-Day sight would be emotional, for I was taking memories and ashes of an uncle, who jumped into Normandy, the night before the invasion, at a spot on the map called St-Lo.  He was wounded twice.  He survived.

He wanted to go back, but never got there.  As he was prepared to pass at age 95, he said he wanted is ashes spread at Normandy with those in his unit who never survived.

He was the last of his unit alive.  I carried thru on his wish.

Bayeux is the tiny village right near Omaha Beach.  I stayed in the Churchill Hotel, a 90-year old hotel that now features every conceivable object from D-Day, including the original ‘Band of Brothers’ picture, and photos of everything from that military invasion, flags included.

I walked the beach where those 130,000 Allied invaders landed.  I sensed what it was like that early dawn morning in 1944.  I stood at low tide, where the landing craft arrived, and gazed how far up the sand all those soldiers had to run.  They ran into open fire from two different hiltops.

The landing craft were shelled by high above German 88s-blowing up before the doors even opened.

The fire was withering.  Bodies in the water, on the sand.  Blood and death everywhere as booby trapped land mines exploded.

It took them hours, and thousands of deaths later before they got ashore, got up the bluffs, and wiped out the German gunners.

it took the Army Rangers 45-minutes to scale up Point du Hoc, taking 90-percent casualties till they knocked out the 88s guns.

You walk the sand and see the death there.  You see the causeways up behind the gun emplacements where our soldiers finally attacked the Kraut from behind, exterminating them.

You think of the courage of these men, not knowing what was about to happen, and then seeing what was happening, and fighting their way off the beach-head.

Today the cemetery above the beach will be quiet.  There are 9,300 Allied soldiers buried there now.  If you listen closely, you can imagine the combat that took place.

What struck me most walking to the US Cemetery was it’s beauty, its solemnness, its atmosphere.

White cross aligned with white crosses in amazing symmetry of rows.  A soldier’s name, his home state, his day of death, all wrapped around a special dignity.

No one talks.  No kids run around.  There is only the quiet sound of the waves, and the sound of your heartbeat, and your mind wandering back to the noise, the bedlam, and blazing guns and the death of that June 6th morning.

They play taps at noon and at sunset.  There is a public prayer each day, where you hear people weep about where they are, or in some cases, whom they lost.

I saw a group of crosses in one corner, where the Bedford Boys, 17-from one town in Virginia, are all buried.  They were a reserve unit in rural Virginia, who joined together, shipped over together, and died together all getting off the same landing craft, killed in the instant cross fire that enveloped them.

They found 2-of the bibles of those soldiers in the soggy sands where they dropped.

I wondered about my uncle, who at 24 from Utica, NY, was a para-glider who  survived the crash and went into combat, getting hit twice, staying in the hedegrows killing Germans too.

I found the spot of a unit member and with a prayer laid some ashes where his unit was buried.  It was overwhelming, and to this day, I tear up thinking about my day there, and more importantly his day there.

The perimeter of the burial grounds contains a beige wall, with names of soldiers, not buried there, but those who arrived, were killed, and were never recovered.  All that before you even enter the US-grounds.

Normandy is such a special place.  The French in Normandy love America, eventhough our aircraft levelled alot of towns, killed alot of citizens to drive out the Germans so the true invasion of Germany could begin, equipment, artillery, more soldiers and then the victory.

Our modern day movies, Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers detailed what it was like.  The only thing missing from those movies were the references to all the paratroopers who died in training at Ft Campbell, Kentucky and in Georgia, training for the glider jump; any reference to the hundreds who died training off the coast of England for the invasion-when a German U-boat torpedoed the landing craft; the smell of diesel fuel on Omaha Beach; or the smell of death from exploding C47s-shot out of the air at the jump zones.

The oddest final hours of my emotional journey was a trip a half mile up the road, to a German cemetery.

As the US Army gathered its dead, they came upon thousands and thousands of dead Germans too.   They were not going to put them in the US burial sight, but rather a farm pasture up the road.

How different that experience was.  Whereas there is beauty everywhere, where there was death, trees-shrubs-statues-memorial for the US and its allies, the German burial grounds is stark.  A chain link fence.  1-sign.  Each plot has a black headstone.  No identity marking, no accolades nor adornments.

Think about that.  Normandy, peace-quiet-reverence, white crosses, trees-shrubs and memorials.  The German grounds, black stones and burial plots and that is all.  White Crosses-good guys.  Black stones-bad guys.

You have to be there to understand our boys, the ‘Greatest Generation’.

Every American should visit Normandy to understand our freedom was not free, and to appreciate what we have in our country, Democracy.

On this day, D-Day, fly a flag of remembrance of what all those young people experienced, those who lived, and enormous numbers who died.

I have never been the same since I went to France.

I could not talk, but the picture, the emotion, the meaning forever branded on my soul.

D-Day is special.



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