Lest we forget!
June 6, 2002 7:54 PM   Subscribe

Lest we forget! D-Day June 6, 1944. NY Times (free) subscription required.
posted by Oxydude (13 comments total)
My grandfather stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-day, and lived to tell the tale...but he'd never talk about it. It was only after he died some 40 odd years later that we found his medals and purple heart. He was a brave man, a proud man, and he served his country when his country and the world needed him the most. For him and the soldiers of every nation that fought beside him to liberate Europe, we raise a toast in silent memory.
posted by dejah420 at 8:13 PM on June 6, 2002

A lot of those guys never talked about the war much. My mom's husband's father did triage on wounded D-Day soldiers for 2 or 3 days straight: he never spoke of it once to his wife or children in 50 years.
posted by crunchburger at 8:31 PM on June 6, 2002

My history teacher was telling a story of a World War I vet that came to speak to her students in the 1980s. Now this guy must have been in his late 80s at least. It was the first time he ever spoke about the war to anyone. The granddaughter (probably a mom of a student) who brought the guy in didn't even know he served.
posted by geoff. at 8:55 PM on June 6, 2002

My father was an army doctor, went in the next day after D-Day. He never talked about the war and my mother was told not to ask. I heard a couple of stories--one about transporting a German prisonerin a jeep: he went nuts when they heard this wierd voop-voop sound and made everybody jump in a ditch: it was a V-1. It crashed in afield a hallf mile away. The was another about finding a cache of cognac, art and gold coins. He pulled one out in Paris and a shopkeepr came over and bought every bit he had.

As an MD, he was automatically a captain--God, he brought home the loot. We had enough Nazi paraphenalia to outfit a squad. Some of it very creepy--SS fezes with a tassel and skull-and-crossbones patch in front, swastika aembands and banners and so forth. He got a purple heart--nobody ever found out what for...

Oh, one other story--he found a toy train set, several sizes larger than 'O' gauge in a boxcar, by a famous maufacturer, in a boxcar in a railyard. He got all but one car and was going back when it blew the side out of the boxcar--boobytrap. He sold it when he got back and bought my older brothers a cool Lionel train set, made a whole tableau complete with a mountain of plaster with a tunnel out in the garage of the earliest house I remember living in...

You know people make fun of Andy Rooney a lot--he was a reporter who went in on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He saw things that would make Saving Sgt. Ryan look like Barney and Friends. So, cut that geezer some slack, kids.

Oh, and PS--when I was a squirt, I knew a Spanish-American war vet.
posted by y2karl at 9:51 PM on June 6, 2002

I was spurred on by a class on World War II to start reading more about it. Every bit of it fascinates me.

The one thing that constantly amazes me about the battles of D-Day and, later on, the Hurtgen Forest is how these young men did so much so selflessly.

It really makes me wonder if my generation could have done what theirs did.
posted by ttrendel at 11:04 PM on June 6, 2002

ttrendel: Fighting for freedom is wonderfully selfish; they were trying to preserve the superior way of life for themselves, their friends (Europe) and their children. That's the beauty of these guys' efforts, and I salute them for it, because we all gained from it.
posted by dagny at 1:17 AM on June 7, 2002

Both my grandfathers were there. They didn't tell those stories. But from the way they lived their lives, they weren't there in the service of dagny's one-trick-pony of a creed. That's probably why they and their comrades in arms voted in Clem Attlee a year later.
posted by riviera at 2:42 AM on June 7, 2002

My grandfather can't talk about being in WWII much either and he's not one who is known for being quiet! He was a medic and I respect what he did more than I could ever tell him.
posted by allpaws at 5:52 AM on June 7, 2002

My Grandad when ashore D-Day +1, anti tank yeomanry so they were at the sharp end from then on. He had a few stories. His unit liberated Belsen later, he spoke about that once before he died in 1989. He is one of my role models.

I am currently reading D-Day by Stephen E. Ambrose (he who wrote Band of Brothers). I reccomend it.
posted by jackspot at 7:29 AM on June 7, 2002

One day our mild-mannered, soft-spoken high school English teacher got a funny look on his face and said: "On this day in 1944, I was storming the beach in Normandy." This was the last person in the world you'd ever imagine storming the beach, but evidently he did.
posted by sheauga at 10:23 AM on June 7, 2002

Good for you guys. My grandfathers were in Africa and Russia, fighting for the wrong side. They never talked about it much, either. I like to think that they just did what they had to, and that neither I nor you nor your grandfathers would have done differently if they had suddenly found themselves in a German uniform. The truth is, people have very few options in times of war.
posted by muckster at 12:41 PM on June 7, 2002

I think it's a shame that those who experience war would not take every opportunity to discuss it with members of younger generations (particularly within their own families). Certainly it can be emotionally difficult for them, but the alternative is generations who grow up getting their view of war from Hollywood (Rambo, et al).

Experience is priceless and shouldn't die with those who had to come by it the hard way.
posted by rushmc at 3:06 PM on June 7, 2002

I second that, rushmc. Much too late did it occur to me to interview my grandparents. Only one surviving grandmother sat down with me for a long afternoon and told stories into a tape recorder. Absolutely fascinating stuff that would otherwise have been lost -- if you only casually listen to the occasional story, they will eventually be lost. I wish this had occured to me much sooner.
posted by muckster at 3:47 PM on June 7, 2002

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