St. Mere Eglise in Normandy, France on June 5, 2019
St. Mere Eglise in Normandy, France on June 5, 2019
Allied re-enactors in St. Mere Eglise, Normandy, France, on June 5, 2019
Wow, I love this thread and the images you both have posted, especially of the folks in uniforms of the time. It is interesting that you met German tourists attending as well.
@Chris The color filters you used for many of the images of the people in historic uniforms are just right!
What a fantastic experience to have seen this - and talked to fellows who were actually there on D Day. The time left to talk to vets of WWII is rapidly drawing to a close. I wonder if there are recorded audible interviews of WW II vets , like the Brits did of WWI vets in the late 1920s? I know of many excellent books written by WW II vets.
How can the youngest generation ever fully understand when the vets are gone, you ask?
Sadly, I'm not sure they ever can. I see youtube interviews on college campuses of multiple adolescents, including college students, who cannot answer what country the Civil War was fought in, or when it occurred - a war that cost this country almost 650,000 military deaths and probably half that many civilian deaths. That a sitting president had his life blown away by a derringer in Ford's theatre.
I am fortunate to possess actual paper letters of ancestors of mine, written as they marched from Indiana to Georgia and back, describe the camps and afflictions of the survivors. Little mention is made of the battles they fought in, or of the casualties. There were lots of questions about how the family and their farm was getting along. Hard, practical people who didn't dwell on their own hardships. Imagine marching from Vicksburg to Atlanta in the summer time. or standing night watch in Tennessee in 12º Fahrenheit in January.
I am certain before the 100th anniversary of D Day there will be similar interviews about when it occurred and where it was fought - things you and I just know and take for granted that every American should know in their marrow.
Every generation has to learn history anew, and history has a hard time competing with streaming videos from youtube these days, I suspect.
@Chris As a amateur photographer, I am quite struck by your use of depth of field and color and monchrome choices. I don't want to yank this thread into a discussion of photo technique, but is it possible to see some of this information somewhere else in another thread, maybe?
Great images and reporting, @Chris , Thank you!
I think these ceremonies may well go the way that commemoration of warfare in older eras, has, and instead become about the trappings and collecting of memorabilia than about the sacrifice and loss. The human mind is not designed to hold on to the difficult stuff, I don't think,
The human mind is not designed to hold on to the difficult stuff, I don't think,
Most WWII vets I knew would not talk about the war. It was too painful and they didn't want to come off as heroes who brag or sought medals. They did it because they saw evil they thought had to be contained.
Phil and I went out to the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, where Rangers had to scale the cliffs to get to the giant guns in the batteries, and we marveled at the waves of people who went all the way out to this place, seeking something. Understanding?
And we wondered what the soldiers who fought here would think of these crowds coming out to understand what they did here. Do we do this for Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq? Maybe those wars were just too awful. Seeing the honor we bestow on the WWII vets, I couldn't help think of the soldiers who fought in Vietnam and wonder how they feel.
superb, photos and dialogue !
wonderful photo essay Chris
Chris, great shots. What camera/lens were you using?
Absolutely awesome, images and story! Genuinely envious!
I was using my beloved Nikon D850 (because I don't care about size). I brought a 35mm f/1.4 because the motorcycles were parked close together and it was hard to get between them:
But it was hard to shoot a portrait with it because you have to get right in people's faces:
So I put on the 70-200 f/2.8 so I could get details up close without crowding these soldiers in the rain (shoulda used a longer shutter speed):
And I could get closer portraits in stealth mode:
I was going to do one of those trixy blends of then and now of the school where the Allied Command Center was, where the Germans surrendered.
When I came home I found this stock photo from Alamy that I bought. It was captioned Nazi prisoners marching:
Here's what the school looks like now with students checking sports scores as they walk:
But I didn't have to align layers in Photoshop and do a blend because someone already did:
The New York Times wrote a fascinating piece about Ernie Pyle, who was essentially the Walter Cronkite of WWII and was there for the invasion.
For those who can't see the article, here's a key quote:
Until D-Day, war had largely been an exhilarating experience for Pyle, terrible but often uplifting. Ten days after the landings, the awfulness of all the death he was witnessing in the “thousands of little skirmishes” in the hedgerow country of Normandy was carving away at his mental state. He reported having knots in his stomach from “constant tenseness and lack of sleep.” In a letter back home, he confided that he had to “continually fight an inner depression over the ghastliness of it all.” “Sometimes,” he wrote to Miller on June 29, “I get so obsessed with the tragedy and horror of seeing dead men that I can hardly stand it. But I guess there’s nothing to do but keep going.”
Sounds like he was suffering from PTSD.....and, on a side note, as I am a Veteran of no real war conflict but concerned abou the alarming rate of suicide amongst war veterans (military or civilians), I was very encouraged with this new treatment for PTSD that some Veterans are trying out.....thus, hopefully this will help many people that suffer from PTSD even if it is not war-related.
That sounds amazing. 🙏 I wonder how it works?
On a lighter note, in the town where the paratroopers landed, Sainte-Mère-Église, the local hair salon came up with a great name! 😁
No, this is not the same veteran. This man is named Léon Gautier. He's wearing the green beret of the French Navy commandos because he was a member of the Kieffer commando who landed there on the D day. Today he's one of the 3 members of that commando still alive.
Kieffer was a French Navy officer leading the 178 men forming the only French unit landing on the Normandy beaches on that day of june 6th, along with the British troops.
Today the 7 commandos units of the French Navy are still named after some officers who gave their lives for France. Some of them were themselves members of the original Kieffer unit, some others gave their life during the Indochina war between 1946 and 1954 (Commandos Kieffer, Ponchardier, Jaubert, Trépel, Hubert, De Monfort, De Penfentenyo).