Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Normandy reviewed

Last month I walked the beaches of Normandy and in so doing fulfilled a longing first realized as a young boy during the 1970s while reading about D-Day and Operation Overlord.  

That longing was stoked in 1998 after viewing the film Saving Private Ryan with it's horrific, albeit accurate, depiction of the slaughter and ultimate triumph of American forces at Omaha Beach on June 6th, 1944.  

John Maddente photo

The structures occupied by German soldiers firing MG-42 machine guns @ 1200 rounds per minute from the top of a ridge, were not visible to me while walking the beach.  The view of those remaining machine gun nests, my Guide instructed, are part of another tour (disappointing).

My feeling while present on those beaches was one more of awe - for example, seeing the 100 foot cliffs the Rangers scaled at Pointe Du Hoc - than the raw emotion I felt while walking the nearby Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial (below).  

If you've ever spoken with veteran who's experienced combat and suggest that he is a hero, he will likely answer that the real heroes never returned.

John Maddente selfie