Saturday, June 07, 2014

My D-Day Stories from 2014, 2009, 2004, including "What the Veteran Told Obama at the 70th Anniversary"

June 6, 2014: 

After the president delivered his long speech and before he finally talked to Putin in Normandy, he was stopped on live television by a bent old soldier who gave Obama a piece of his mind.

June 5, 2014: 
John G. Morris, now 97 years old, has published a World War II photography book unlike anything you've ever seen.

Five years ago, one of the most evocative and, to me, one of the most surprising travel pieces I've reported - October, 2009: 

There is no place in France where so many American flags fly as in Normandy in June. The Stars and Stripes festoon the windows of ancient farmhouses. Old Glories catch the Atlantic wind over the beaches, waving above stone walls and the patchwork of orchards and pasture that borders the cliffs or descends to the edge of the tide. Everywhere you look, it seems, red-white-and-blue flutters against lush green farmland. Flags are stickered on snack-bar doors. Sometimes, accompanied by Union Jacks and Canadian Maple Leafs, they're arranged like bouquets of long-stemmed flowers for sale in front of souvenir shops. And of course they fly in June, as they do all year round, above the vast garden of stone at Colleville-sur-Mer, where so many thousands of GIs lie buried. These French remember, you think when you first see it all. And they do. ...

A decade ago, one year into the Iraq War, I wrote his homage to the veterans and to Ernie Pyle - May 31, 2004:

The first time I visited the Normandy beaches, almost 20 years ago, I went with my father-in-law, who'd landed there on D-Day. We walked on the wide sand and through the green, wind-blown fields, and he looked a little lost, as many veterans do when they wander those cross-covered cliffs.
You could see him gazing out to sea, but searching inside himself for the buddies who'd died, and for that young man who used to be him. Since then, we've visited other sites where he fought and his friends perished. The experience is always heartbreaking, not only because of the sad fact that death is, but because of the terrible scale of it in these places--a spectacle of killing which, thank God, we haven't seen in my generation's many wars. At least, not yet....

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