Thursday, September 3, 2009
Anyway, on to the real reason for this post: D-Day, by Stephen Ambrose. I picked it up last Thursday. I set it down the following Tuesday. It was that good.
I've been reading fanatically every book I can get my hands on regarding Normandy ever since we went there last fall. I knew the basics about the invasion from having watched Band of Brothers and studying history, but I didn't know the details. Last fall I read Joseph Balkoski's Omaha Beach and loved every page. That detailed the history of the events around Omaha Beach, but didn't delve into the action on the other beaches, as well as the famous attack on Pointe-du-hoc.
In D-Day, Ambrose covers the history of the day as well as the events from midnight to midnight, from the agonizing decision to send forth the troops to the sweet relief of the soldiers who, exhausted and weary, collapsed to sleep the night of June 6, 1944.
It is a heart-breaking book. From the boys who never made it to the beaches to those who died trying to take them, each page is heavy, for it carries with it such history. But I think it's the kind of heartbreak that is important to have in our lives. We need to know, and we need to remember, because it's one of the most important days in modern history. On D-Day, thousands of young men headed straight into the jaws of the enemy in the hopes of liberating Europe. Some did not return, and this world should be grateful for their sacrifice. We should remember, in the hopes that such action will not be needed again. And we should be grateful to those who are serving their countries, willing to give of themselves so that others do not have to do so.