D-Day + 80 years

National WWII Museum

Today is D-Day +80 years. Since someone asked, D-Day stands for Day-Day. “D-Day and H-Hour are used for the day and hour on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated.” June 6, 1944, “was so iconic that it came to be used solely when referring to the beginning of Operation Overlord.”

This year, I learned about the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. The site has several articles about the anniversary.

Surprisingly, the number of the war dead from that day is still in dispute. “Of the 4,414 Allied deaths on June 6th, 2,501 were Americans and 1,913 were Allies. If the figure sounds low…, it’s probably because we’re used to seeing estimates of the total number of D-Day casualties, which includes fatalities, the wounded, and the missing.

“While casualty figures are notoriously difficult to verify… the accepted estimate is that the Allies suffered 10,000 total casualties on D-Day itself. The highest casualties occurred on Omaha Beach, where 2,000 U.S. troops were killed, wounded, or went missing; at Sword Beach and Gold Beach, where 2,000 British troops were killed, wounded, or went missing; and at Juno Beach, where 340 Canadian soldiers were killed and another 574 wounded.

“The vast majority of the men who died perished in the very first waves of the attack. The first soldiers out of the landing craft were gunned down by German artillery. Once those pillboxes were destroyed and the machine guns silenced, the later waves of troops faced far better odds.”

There was a disastrous dry run 40 days earlier, so the success of the actual invasion was remarkable.

Albany is represented

From the Albany City School District website: “The Albany Marching Falcons officially kicked off their trip to France on Tuesday morning, loading their luggage, their instruments, and themselves onto two chartered buses bound for an evening flight from JFK International Airport to Paris.

“The group – some 50 City School District of Albany students from grades 6-12” -at least two of whom I know– “will be part of France’s official commemoration of the 80th anniversary of D-Day. They were accompanied by marching arts director Brian Cady and numerous chaperones and family members.

Take a look at a Facebook photo album of the sendoff

“Led by director Bryan Cady, the Marching Falcons will be one of only two bands from the U.S. invited to perform on Omaha Beach in Normandy. [The other is from the University of Florida.] The Marching Falcons will also perform at D-Day memorial concerts in Falaise, Saint Laurent-sur-Mer, and Paris before heading back to Albany on June 11.”


I watched this CBS News story about the WWII museum. A 99-year-old vet told the story of his deployment to kids eight decades his junior.

In the narrative, one teen asked his father to watch the movie Saving Private Ryan. That caught my attention because I decided in 1998 that I would not see the film. I saw previews in the movie theater and a brief clip during the Oscars.

Esquire magazine ran a story in 2023: 25 Years on, Saving Private Ryan’s Opening Scene Remains Cinema’s Most Brutal Depiction of War. Steven Spielberg’s Omaha Beach landings are not for the faint of heart. And that’s the point.

I guess I’m of the faint of heart.

“The 24-minute sequence captures war in a way that we hadn’t seen before, and hasn’t been matched since. It’s the nervous shakes that possess [Tom] Hanks’ hands. The vomit. The desperate surprise of soldiers drowning in the shallows, dragged down by their gear. The indiscriminate German bullets landing with a ‘puft’ in American chests. The relentless machine gun fire and explosions. The arms blown off, the guts hanging out, all of it captured by a cameraman running alongside the actors, instructed to pan to whatever part of the horror caught his attention.”

Some extremely small part of me says that I ought to watch it. Then the “hell, no” part of me wins out. Still, I’m glad it exists.

“To watch this opening salvo is to witness this veteran’s story transposed directly onto the screen. It’s a guttural, terrifying sequence that plays like something from a horror film. As it should; so realistic was this beach assault that it was reported to have triggered PTSD in veterans.”

Rather like war itself, no matter the cause.

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