The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Editorials

June 4, 2012

Remembering the ‘Greatest Generation’

TARBORO — Tuesday is the 68th anniversary of D-Day, which was the beginning of the end for Adolph Hitler and his German army.

I remember the 1962 movie, “The Longest Day,” which was the story of the operation. To this day, I try to watch it whenever it is aired after seeing it for the very first time at The Saenger Theatre in Hattiesburg, Miss. as a 12-year-old.

Tom Brokaw called members of the generation who comprised the Allied troops at Normandy “The Greatest Generation” in his 1998 book, and it is through their sacrifices that we enjoy many of our freedoms today.

Within three months, the northern part of France would be freed and the invasion force would be preparing to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces moving in from the east.

With Hitler's armies in control of most of mainland Europe, the Allies knew that a successful invasion of the continent was central to winning the war. Hitler knew this too, and was expecting an assault on northwestern Europe in the spring of 1944. He hoped to repel the Allies from the coast with a strong counterattack that would delay future invasion attempts, giving him time to throw the majority of his forces into defeating the Soviet Union in the east. Once that was accomplished, he believed an all-out victory would soon be his.

On the morning of June 5, 1944, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. On his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England for the trip to France. That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion.

By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day's end, 155,000 Allied troops — Americans, British and Canadians — had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.

For their part, the Germans suffered from confusion in the ranks and the absence of celebrated commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was away on leave. At first, Hitler, believing that the invasion was a feint designed to distract the Germans from a coming attack north of the Seine River, refused to release nearby divisions to join the counterattack and reinforcements had to be called from further afield, causing delays. He also hesitated in calling for armored divisions to help in the defense. In addition, the Germans were hampered by effective Allied air support, which took out many key bridges and forced the Germans to take long detours, as well as efficient Allied naval support, which helped protect advancing Allied troops.

Though it did not go off exactly as planned, as later claimed by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery--for example, the Allies were able to land only fractions of the supplies and vehicles they had intended in France--D-Day was a decided success. By the end of June, the Allies had 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were poised to continue their march across Europe.

In addition to The Longest Day, the heroism and bravery displayed by troops from the Allied countries on D-Day has served as inspiration for Saving Private Ryan (1998). It was also depicted in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers (2001).

As a nation, we don’t hold an official observance of D-Day but, as you go about your daily routine on Wednesday, take a moment to say a brief prayer in memory of these heroes ... they’re not many of them left among us.

(John H. Walker is editor and publisher of The Daily Southerner. He may be reached at 823-3106 or jwalker@dailysoutherner.com. Material for this column was taken from History.com)

 

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Spring and snow just don’t go together

    A check of the calendar tells us that spring arrived last Thursday while my memory reminds me we saw snow flakes flying by in that March wind throughout much of the day.
    With Easter this coming Sunday, I’m reminded of a wet Good Friday snow in West Texas that brought anywhere from six inches in Big Spring to 18 inches in Sweetwater on April 5, 1996.
    The wind that day was straight off the Polar ice cap and the snow was horizontal much of the time. In fact,the wind compacted the snow so much that it was more that six inches thick on the sides of utility poles in front of the Big Spring Herald.
    On Saturday, it was almost completely gone.
    Mom and Dad always warned of an Easter freeze and the weather this year seems conducive to such a phenomena of Mother Nature.

    March 25, 2013

  • Why is there no answer to the question ‘why?’

    Stephanie and I have two grandsons, 7-year-old Alex and 5-year-old Dominick, and every word we’ve heard come out of the mouths of those young survivors at Sandy Hook Elementary School has hit us like a sledgehammer.

    December 17, 2012

  • On dealing with humanity

    I’m probably not much different from any other grandparent.
    As we heard the story Monday morning about the 2-year-old who was treated just about every way but humanely last weekend, we started trying to track the story down.

    November 12, 2012

  • Remember all history, good and bad

    As we maneuver the ins and outs of life, we develop connectors to link with the timeline of events stored in the recesses of our brain.
    On Saturday, Sept. 29, Mom, Daddy and I were in Mississippi Memorial Stadium looking on as Coach Johnny Vaught’s Ole Miss Rebels beat the Kentucky, 16-0.

    October 3, 2012

  • Sharing random thoughts

    Now that the Olympics are over, what did you think about some of the events?
    Come on. How can baseball no longer be an Olympic sport but advanced gymnastic ribbon twirling can get you a gold medal?
    Who won the ribbon twirling, anyway?
    But talking about the Olympics, how about those two women’s relay teams —he 4x100 and 4x400? What a show they put on!

    August 20, 2012

  • Football Fridays not just about game on field

    This is the week when it’s time for local schools to be ready, as Friday night signals the start of the 2013 high school football season.
    But it’s not just about the game.

    August 13, 2012

  • News with color not part of paper’s DNA

    Once upon a time, I had a publisher whose seem to think that a day in which at least one hour wasn’t wasted in meetings was, well, a waste.
    I don’t like meetings ... especially those that drone on and on and on when one of the participants wastes everyone else’s time asking questions after the fact when it would have been easier for them to have done their homework.

    August 13, 2012

  • Olympics: It’s hard to not be jingoistic

    Sitting in from of the television, it’s hard not to be jingoistic when you see some young American on the top step of the Olympics award stand, gold medal around their neck and hand over their heart as they sing the Star Spangled Banner.

    August 6, 2012

  • Princeville administration claims conspiracy against its efforts

    To the Editor:
    These are the people who are against our Administration and their negative efforts affect everybody in Princeville since the beginning of this Administration in 2010:
    • Former Mayor Delia Perkins
    • Commissioner Ann Howell
    • Commissioner Gwendolyn Knight
    • Former Commissioner Ann Carney Adams
    • Former Commissioner Carolyn Sharpe
    • Newspaper Reporter, Calvin Adkins
    • County Commissioner Viola Harris

    July 13, 2012

  • Heat offers opportunities

    I’m thankful I don’t have t toil outside for a living, as do many people.
    I’ve always been one to take care of my own yard, yet Saturday, we paid Tom Williams to cut the grass.

    July 9, 2012

Your Comments
AP Video
Facebook
Twitter Updates