Seventy years ago today the largest ever assembly of troops landed on a 50 mile stretch of beaches in Normandy in Northern France. 150,000 troops landed there- 12,000 of whom would be casualties by the end of the battle. My own grandfather landed on the D-Day beaches, though many weeks later, and just this past Spring I had the opportunity to visit these sacred lands.
What struck me most was the phenomenal contrast between the beautiful, serene beaches and the ugly violence that played out there. At the time of the landing, one of the news outlets stated “this is no longer a war of generals and admirals, but of men.” It occurred to me, walking the beaches, what a confused situation it must have been for those men. They were driven by patriotism, bravery, and brotherhood- all positive emotions that led ordinary men- brothers, husbands, and fathers- to fight in a massive display of gunfire and hand-to-hand combat. Victory for the Allied troops wasn’t negotiable- it would be vital to Hitler’s defeat and the spread of democracy- and the soldiers fought with every ounce of passion they had.
My grandfather fought with the “Bravest of the Brave,” the 95th infantry. So, to honor his memory- and perhaps most notably his memories- I am including today what I have of his from the war: a collection of odd items and scattered snapshots that tell his story.