Monday, June 6, 2016

D-Day .... Normandy, France .... June 6, 1944

As I mentioned somewhere in the Memorial Day post -- either in the commentary or the comments -- I had pulled out two photographs taken in 2004 at the D-Day invasion sites at Normandy in France .... not photographs from the American cemetery as I had done a few times in the past, but from Omaha Beach, where the bloodiest fighting took place and the most men died. One photograph ran on Memorial Day and here is the second, on the anniversary of the June 6, 1944, invasion.

I had a family member there, but he was fortunate and did not land until the third day when the fighting had moved inland. That did not ultimately save him, though. He was later killed in the Netherlands, never to see his home again. Another family member arrived at that beach in September and, by the time the war in Europe ended in May 1945, had rolled across France and Belgium and Germany and into the country then known as Czechoslovakia as a tanker with George Patton's Third Army. His unit was the first to arrive at one of the Nazi concentration camps. He lived well past the war, but never really survived it.

I will not recite the history of the D-Day invasion because anyone who actually is curious can learn pretty much all there is to know in terms of "book learning" by traveling only a few strokes on a computer keyboard. I will note, though, the flags flying in the photograph are among several flown there commemorating the nations which participated in the invasion along several beaches of the Normandy coastline. These are the French, English, Dutch and Norwegian flags.

And, I will add a few words about the music: "Hymn to the Fallen," was composed by John Williams for the film, "Saving Private Ryan." The individual who put together this video did marvelous work linking the piece to photographs of a number of cemeteries for American war dead scattered around the world –- including some in France near the D-Day landing sites at Normandy. Tempted as I am to utter a few political comments, I will refrain and only say these lives were given as part of the struggle to make the earth a better place for all of us.

So, I will paraphrase and revise a bit from a sentence among those I wrote last week on Memorial Day: Have a good day, remembering those who came before us and made it possible for we Americans and many others to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And, this we do in relative safety and security and comfort because there are some yet today who still stand in constant vigil -- prepared to defend to the death your freedom.


ANITA said...

Lets never forget!!

Brave history about your relatives!

I hope we never get such a war again..Its was awful..and the most awful I think its that it is still happing soo much bad things in the world..But we here up in the "rich"Countries do not care..We dont want to open our eyes about it...
The young ones has not experienced a war..and the old ones that had,,is soo old they cant speak about it.So slowely it becomes a faded memory..

Ok Fram..Take care in the sun!Her we are today again very very hot monday..Cant go for a run ...So i will relax on the balcony with a cold limonade all day..See you soon and thanx for not forgetting :)

Kaya said...

I remember you mentioned in a comment that you had the family members who were fighting in this war.

How tragic that one of the family members died later. And a fascinating story about another family member who ended in Czechoslovakia. We say in Russian that God works in mysterious ways (Неисповедимы пути Господни).

Fram, I wanted to ask you in my previous comment, if a photograph of memorial at Omaha beach is yours? Right now I know that these photographs are yours and they are unforgettable.

I love this Hymn to the Fallen; it's beautiful!

Today we are having a severe thunderstorm; I end up here because I am afraid that we lose electricity and I will not be able to publish this comment.


Smareis said...

Deve ter sido muito dolorido para sua família Fram... Perder entes querido em guerra deve ser triste demais.

Penso que deve ser muito triste ver um parente ser convocado para guerra. A família nunca sabe se a pessoa volta com vida ou não. A espera por noticias deve ser a pior tortura para a família.

Achei muito interessante esse memorial. Esses soldados que lutaram bravamente para defender seu País merece ser lembrado sempre.

Uma homenagem bonita a sua postagem, para esses valentes soldados.
Uma semana excelente pra você Fram. Vou atualizar por esses dias meu blog.

Até mais Fram!

Fram Actual said...

So .... I am home again.

As I often write, Anita, I grew up in a rural, small-town, mid-America setting where most of the men had military service and many holidays -- like Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day (Armistice Day/Remembrance Day) -- have significant influence and a strong military milieu. Add to that my own family background since arrival in the United States stretches back to at least four members being combatants in the American Civil War. Fighting for defense of homeland, for individual rights and freedom, for political and philosophical beliefs is part of my family heritage, so, in a sense, remembrance is in my blood and something which can never be forgotten.

It is a perfect day weather-wise for me, but summer heat is just around the corner. Thank you, Anita, for coming and for your comment.

Fram Actual said...

I have written about these men in the past, Kaya, and, in fact, I wrote an entire post revolving around the Third Army tanker about a year ago. He was a farm boy who had a year of college when he went off to war in 1943.

As for the photographs, any I have not taken myself usually have a credit line or an explanation of origin somewhere in the post. Some actually are photos of photos, as I did not "enter the digital world" until a few years into this century. Most of my photographic existence has been with stuff like 35 mm single lens reflex (mostly Nikon and Canon), twin lens reflex (mostly Rolliflex) and even some odds and ends and aerial work with 4x5 Speed Graphic-types. I even had my own darkroom for a few years.

The song is wonderful, I agree, and the video, I hope, shakes and rattles a few people who see the United States in a negative manner. It is a cliché, but it is true: American blood and treasure are a primary reason the world has not been swallowed up by a despotic, tyrannical regime.

Thank you, Kaya, for your presence and for your comment.

Fram Actual said...

Losing a family member under any circumstances is painful and difficult and something which will linger in the memory of the survivors throughout their entire lives, I am sure, Smareis. One element of belief, though, while it might differ among individuals, is that the death of a family member in war conveys with it a sense that the person died for a cause, for a purpose, so that others might live in peace and freedom.

Not everyone will think of it this way, but I do because in a broad sense the United States does not go to war as an aggressor, but as a defender. American leadership does not always fight its wars wisely and there are times when deaths are brought about by mistakes and outright stupidity, but the goals of American wars, I think, are based on good overcoming evil.

Yes, those who fight and die for their country deserve to live on in the memory of those who survive wars.

Thank you, Smareis, for your appearance and your thoughts and kind words. I will look forward to your next post.

ANITA said...

Thank you Fram for always nice and great reply at my place

Its good you are home for a while now...I love your story..Love brave in your family

Have to say I will have a pause from blogging..Dont now when i am back..Iam on facebook though.(Anita Grinde)

Wish you a great summer with much love with the girls and much money so you can do everything your dreams come true

Much hugs ,friendship ,love from me :))))


A Cuban In London said...

Excellent tribute and very touching music. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

Home, yes, for a short while, Anita.

I might be gone next week for a few days, for sure the week following and, maybe, again the week after that for two or three days. I am busier than I wish to be.

So, you are going to pause your blogging for a while, are you? I am sorry to hear that. I will miss your presence here, and I am afraid that I will not be encountering you on Facebook. I am not a fan of Facebook for three or four reasons, and refuse to go near it. "Never Trump" in my world of politics; "Never Facebook" in my world of roaming the internet. Is this the time of your trip to Cyprus? I cannot recall when you said you were going there this summer. In any case, I hope you will enjoy your time away from the blogs.

I assume you will not be gone all summer, but, yes, I will continue my search for the end of a rainbow and the proverbial pot of gold and anything/anyone else which is there for me to find.

Thank you, Anita, for coming here again and for your comment. And, a special thank you for the hugs, friendship and love .... I need all I can get of all three.

Take care while you are away ....

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, CiL. In many ways, I am part of this martial world and it is part of me, so it is natural for me to empathize with it and those within it -- and, especially to understand and to appreciate those who gave their all.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by and for writing a comment

A Cuban In London said...

Hope you enjoyed the concert. By the way, your progeny have very good taste in music. It does fill me with pride when I hear my son playing one of the "oldies". :-)

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

Oh, I most certainly enjoyed it, CiL. The only way it could have been better would have been with a "lovely" to accompany me. Do you think it is time for me to stop whining about that and do something about it ??

I sometimes say I probably am one of the few fathers who had his children shouting at him to turn the music down, rather than vice versa. They grew up listening to rock as well as to classical, and were attending concerts and stage plays with me from an early age. As you might guess, they have turned out to be bibliophiles, as well.

There is a Brad Delp event here the first week of July, which includes some from his immediate family and some from the original Boston lineup. Hopefully ....

And, Diana Ross will be at a nearby casino in late July. Man, I am in absolute love with her and really, really want to make it to her performance. Somehow, I never have seen her live ....

Thank you, CiL. I am glad you came and left a comment for me.

A Cuban In London said...

Agree. Journalists should stay neutral, no matter how difficult it is.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

I think television journalists, in particular, have been guilty for decades of inserting themselves and their personal views into news stories. Now, it seems evident to me that print media reporters and editors have joined the race to include their own opinions/beliefs/biases within the context of what they write. To often, news mingles with propaganda -- and, how is the poor reader to distinguish between them?

It is a sad state of affairs, in many, many ways.

Thank you, CiL. I am glad that you found your way back here once again.

A Cuban In London said...

But, but, but... as I always ask people in regards to football matches, what happens if the other team scores first? :-) I will explain the metaphor.

It's all well and good to go in all guns blazing (literally in this case) and wipe out the bad guys. But... when you play 11 vs 11 there will always be 11 players wanting to score against you. The sports analogy applies to war and military conflicts. If I send troops to another country, will the people from that country lie down and do as they are told and be all nice and welcoming? Sorry, pal, they won't be. Ask the Soviets in Afghanistan, ask your troops in Iraq, ask the Brits in Afghanistan (again!).

More than a problem with guns (which, as you well know, I am opposed to and I have made my position clear on my blog and elsewhere), there is a problem with political discourse nowadays. A Labour MP has just been assassinated here in the UK. The first time a female MP has been murdered in cold blood and broad daylight. We don't have the same problem with guns you guys have over there but we do have a serious problem with lack of nuance in our political debates.

Just a few random thoughts out there for you, mate. :-)

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

I think you are viewing the situation from a faulty vantage point, CiL, largely because you are not seeing the historical roots of the situation. It would take thousands of words to adequately reply to your comment, so all I will do is toss a few thoughts into the kettle of stew.

The problems which persist today in modern Iraq began with the British fouling up the region following World War I. Read about the British Mandate. Also check into British meddling in Egypt, and read about the military coup in 1952 which overthrew King Farouk. Do not omit to examine how U.S. involvement has helped intensify Iranian ups and down, for instance, the CIA-organized coup against the existing government there in 1953.

The U.S. intervention in Vietnam failed because the war was fought with half-measures to avoid antagonizing China and the Soviet Union. The Soviet adventure in Afghanistan during the 1980s, which you mention, might have ended differently had not the U.S., in the form of the CIA, been covertly aiding and funding the Mujahideen. The situation in Iraq certainly would be different today had not Bush the Elder decided not to march all the way to Baghdad and take out Saddam Hussein. Libya is becoming a hotbed of radical Islam today because of the half-measures taken by Barack Obama and his protégé, Hillary Clinton. The incalculable bloodshed in Syria continues because of inaction by Obama and other Western leaders.

I am a borderline isolationist, and happen to believe many of the problems today would not exist had it not been for meddling since time immemorial by the so-called "super powers." But, to me it is equally clear that if meddling is undertaken, it must be done (as I have said before) with the wrath of Genghis Khan to ensure any and all "problems" are resolved -- at least for a generation or two.

Going into Iraq the first time made sense. Going in the second time did not. Going into Libya did not make sense. Going into Syria did not make sense initially, other than for humanitarian reasons, and would make even less sense now. (So, why do we have three thousand U.S. troops there?) Allow the indigenous to resolve its own conflicts or die trying, but keep us out of it. But, when a life and death problem -- like the current, crazed mass murders by radical, fanatical Islamic fundamentalists -- begins spilling over into other countries, then the Western nations should drive to the heart of the problem, to the source of the leadership, and eradicate it altogether.

This Islamic fundamentalist movement really is no different than the Nazi movement in terms of the threat it poses. Would it have made sense during World War II to allow the Nazis to keep mainland Europe, rather than to invade and drive on to Berlin, and then to either kill or to put on trial the leadership of the Nazi regime?

I could keep going, elaborating more and more, but I am certain we would never agree, CiL. From my point of view, being a pacifist only works when others are willing to protect you, as well as themselves. Never-the-less, I am glad to listen to your positions and pleased when you come to visit me here. Thank you ....

P.S. I will leave political nuances for another day !!

Fram Actual said...

Upon reflection, I feel compelled to add a question here, CiL.

If free countries like the United States and Britain do not intervene, are not willing to shed blood and to spend treasure, to stop the literal slaughter of hundreds of thousands of living, breathing human beings in places like Syria and Iraq, who should do it? Who will do it? Is it the role of the pacifist to allow thousands to die so he can maintain some sort of self-delusion that he possesses a higher moral authority because he refuses to participate in war?

The question may appear contradictory to a borderline isolationist who writes, "Allow the indigenous to resolve its own conflicts or die trying ....," but it is more a matter of when and where in my mind. Besides that, I am curious to learn how you rationalize a situation like this ....

A Cuban In London said...

Good question on military intervention that must be answered immediately, sir! :-) But, but, but...

The question cannot be answered without taking a few steps back, way back to colonial times, even further back to slavery times of the Greeks and then the Romans. For it was here that the present ideology of western superiority was born.

You're quite right to cite the Brits as the main culprits for the volatile situation int he Middle East. The carving up of former Persia, the creation of Israel, the divide-and-conquer policy adopted by succcesssive British prime ministers. It all adds up. More further east to India and next year they will not only be celebrating the 70th anniversary of partition but also the 70th anniversary of the Muslim exodus to what is nowadays Pakistan. Along the way, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people died.

This might answer your question. The world as it is has been messed about for far too long, so faced with a situation like the one in Syria my decision would be: first, ban all sales of weapons to the dictatorship (Cameron did the opposite; he toured the Middle East back in 2010 when the coalition was formed, flogging off weapons left, right and centre) and work with the opposition (in a pragmatic way).

No, I wouldn't let thousands be slaughtered but at the same time I would not enter into any kind of arms trade with countries that might use those same weapons against me. A lot of the weaponry used by Daesh and the Taliban were either taken away from US/British soldiers or procured through third countries that have arms deals with the United Kingdom and the US. Cut the supply and tackle the smugglers.

This is the only answer I have for you. I'm afraid that when it comes to the arms trade I am on the losing side. This is one of the main economic staples of both Britain and the US.Why would they forsake it?

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

Historically, the problems and the proposed solutions to these matters such as exist in Iraq and Syria today probably extend to beyond the evolution of modern man. I suppose my thoughts basically center around the history I have a grip on, which is through knowledge of people who were actual participants in the events which transpired in the Twentieth Century, as well as political writers and historians in whom I have a bit of confidence.

Your last sentence defeats your arguments, CiL. The arms business is too lucrative for governments and individuals to abandon simply for the sake of peace. I am being factious to a degree, but that is the plain truth of the matter. Incidentally, most of the weapons possessed by ISIS were left behind by United States troops or thrown down by Iraqi troops when the man who would be king, Barack Obama, pulled his abrupt, premature, ill-advised withdrawal from Iraq, initiating the rise of ISIS and the continuation of this war which had been over, at least for a few months.

I will not belabor this point because it almost certainly is futile when arguing it with liberals/progressives, but there are times when the only solution is to absolutely crush the opponent. As I asked before, should the Allied forces have stopped after liberating Paris and left the rest of Europe and Germany intact and under Nazi control, or should they have done what they did and pounded the Nazi forces into oblivion, not stopping until reaching Berlin?

Anyway, I will leave it there for now. I like your posiions and attitudes regarding art, books, education, languages, music -- many estoteric subjects -- but, to be honest, I think you are naive beyond belief regarding political forces, economic forces and, sort of, religious concepts. Be a thinker, not a card-carrying progressive.

Your turn !!??

Something special ....