Omaha Beach forever…

A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) fro...

A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of the U.S. Army’s First Division on the morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day) at Omaha Beach. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Landing craft and tanks at Omaha beach during ...

Landing craft and tanks at Omaha beach during the D-Day landings, many of which had departed from Penarth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Omaha beach, Dog red & Dog white sectors, ...

Omaha beach, Dog red & Dog white sectors, at Saint-Laurent sur Mer, Normandy. One of the D-Day beaches. Taken at saint-laurent sur Mer, February 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St Laurent sur Mer, Sunday oct 13 2013

70 years passed since the biggest armada in the History landed on the five Normandy beaches called Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword, to free Europe from the Nazi iron fist.
Since then, scores of tourists, mostly Americans, have trudged on Bloody Omaha, the endless golden beach, hands deeply ensconced  in their pockets, hunched shoulders, forehead marked with frowns, as if they were bearing the weight of the grey rain- laden clouds of the Normandy sky along with the tradgedy  of so many young lives mowed down seven decades ago right there on that  immense solitary beach.

Today Omaha is pristine. Only sand and sea, a few seagulls, some beach houses along the road and the dike, and the endless sea on a wide open horizon. Who would believe that here in June 44,  2000 young GI’s died in a nightmarrish slaughter, and that shortly  after and for months and months on,  the uproar and turmoil of hundreds of thousands  of troops and a zillion tons of equipement would feed the irresistible progression of the Allied armies into the heart of Nazi Germany, in a permanent stampede  and frenzied activity?

Now all is calm and quiet. Above on the hill, in the most beautiful cemetery in the world, 6000 young men rest forever.

Next June , I will take my American friends of the Cavaliers de Lafayette to this place so dear to my heart. I will tell them how, as a kid in the 50’s, I used to play with other kids in the sand dunes behind the beaches, in the bunkers and  foxholes, still full of equipment and objects of the battle.

Looking down onto Omaha from WN 62

Looking down onto Omaha from WN 62 (Photo credit: Jamie Anderson)

 

Only in the early sixties with the iconic film “the Longest  Day” by Darryl Zanuck, would the Normandy Beaches become a touristic attraction, and to a certain   degree alas also a  tourist trap.

I will tell them how for a whole generation after the war, Americans remained  those handsome generous young men pictured in magazines, smiling on their Jeep or Sherman tank, holding an extatic young french woman in their  arms, handing out candies, Hershey bars and blonde cigarettes to the crowds of enthusiastic passer byes. Nothing after that, neither Mac-Carthysm, Ku Klux klan,  , the Kennedy brothers and Rev Martin Luther King assassinations, My Lai, Watergate, George W Bush and his Irak war, nor the smouldering anti americanism of the french arrogant elites, detered me from loving the country which liberated us in 44 and from venerating the boys who lost their lives on our Normandy beaches.

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One Response to Omaha Beach forever…

  1. Michele says:

    Thank you for this moving tribute – weaving the brutal facts of that historic day with the redeeming threads of a grateful heart. The image painted of the tourists drawn to walk this beach is spot on. I visited Omaha my first time in 1985 with my dad who had been in the Pacific theater in WWII but had brothers fighting in Europe. He did indeed walk that beach with hands deeply ensconced and with a furrowed brow, as if supporting the weight of the human condition on his bent, but still strong shoulders, his body bearing witness to the intensity of feeling evoked by that sacred place.

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