Friday, June 06, 2014

The Longest Day Turns 70

Today marks the 70th Anniversary of The Longest Day.  Last Fall, Umlaut accomplished a life long goal of visiting Normandy, France and the D-Day battlefields.  Calling the experience epic doesn't begin to do it justice.  Anyway, I have not been in a writing mood recently (which is why this space has been silent) but since a picture is worth a thousand words here are several thousand "words" on my pilgrimage: 

Sainte-Mère-Église [Note the tribute to Pvt. John Steele]
Sainte-Mère-Église.  This site is now a public restroom.... Awkward.
I stumbled into Carentan, France almost by accident.  If you've watched Band Of Brothers you understand why this was a big deal... Unfortunately, the plaque on the village's monument to the 101st Airborne was badly oxidized and hard to read.

 Dragon's Teeth - Juno Beach
This view is looking down on the Omaha Beach killing zone from the bluff where the Germans were entrenched in 1944.  It's now where the American Cemetery is located.

What I listened to while walking on Omaha Beach.  Maiden.  Always.

This is a panoramic shot of Omaha Beach taken from the water's edge and looking towards the bluff where the Germans were entrenched in 1944 and where the American Cemetery is now located.  I walked from the water's edge all the way back up to the top of the bluff.  Images from the dozens of World War II books that I've read since I was a kid and the scenes from The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan almost blinded my psyche.  It was one of the most intense experiences ever and was made even more profound because I was literally the only human on the beach... which tripped me out.  As my feet sank into the sand with each step I felt like I was walking on the souls of all the dead soldiers.

Two of Robert Capa's famous Omaha Beach photos taken in the heat of combat on D-Day.

 Master Of Puppets.. The American Cemetery - Omaha Beach

I have no idea....

Pointe du Hoc.  The ground is still scarred and misshapen from the June 1944 combat.  The ruins of old German fortifications are everywhere to climb into and feel the ghosts of war. 

How do you say Master Of Puppets in German?  The German Cemetery - La Cambe, France

An Unknown German Soldier

An Unknown British Soldier.. The British Cemetery - Bayeux, France

 German Hetzer Tank Destroyer... I think.

German Panther with a shell hole in the right side of the turret that probably killed it.

Operation Overlord Cookies.  Deliciously liberating!
The American Cemetery Visitors Center - Omaha Beach

This has been my obligatory June 6th rant.  On the way back to America, some pimply-faced World War II vets called me a fag.  I'm way behind updating this space with Metal and Lock 'N Loll stuff... Writer's block is a bitch.  Stay tuned and let's see if I get my word mojo back. Until then, remember and commemorate this day: