Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

In First, Allies and Axis Unite to Remember D-Day

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • In First, Allies and Axis Unite to Remember D-Day

    courtesy of the NYTIMES
    enjoy!



    In First, Allies and Axis Unite to Remember D-Day
    By ELAINE SCIOLINO

    Published: June 7, 2004

    ARROMANCHES, France, June 6 - The victors and the vanquished came together on the Norman coast on Sunday to commemorate the Allied landing exactly 60 years ago that breached Hitler's defended sea wall and led to Europe's liberation.

    Ceremonies spanning 50 miles of battle sites evoked a war with a crystal clear purpose, when invaders were liberators, when an occupied France embraced the Americans and their allies with gratitude and glee.

    President Jacques Chirac, casting himself as the maestro of Europe for the D-Day commemoration, welcomed President Bush and a score of other world leaders to the beaches where more than 150,000 soldiers landed and more than 3,000 died in the first two days of fighting.

    In a triumph of will over history, Mr. Chirac invited Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, arranging a French-German commemoration of the storming of the Normandy beaches for the first time. He also invited President Vladimir V. Putin, whose country lost nine million soldiers fighting on the side of the Allies. It was the first time a Russian leader has attended a D-Day event.

    At an international ceremony at Arromanches facing the beach code-named Gold, Mr. Chirac said France would "never forget" the sacrifices that American and other Allied forces made to free France and all of Europe.

    "Sixty years ago the soldiers of freedom landed here, rising up from the sea under a deluge of iron and fire to liberate France," Mr. Chirac said. He added, "Every one of these brothers in arms who fell on the field of honor will remain in our hearts for eternity."

    It was at Arromanches, in an extraordinary feat of engineering, that the British transported piecemeal across the Channel an artificial port that they built in seven days. Vestiges of the concrete pontoon bridges still poke up from the sea.

    The ceremony blended moments of solemnity and poignancy.

    Mr. Chirac pinned Legion of Honor medals on 14 veterans, one from each of the countries that took part in the Normandy campaign, kissing each of them on both cheeks.

    The American Sixth Fleet band played Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train." Fifty military planes flew overhead. The French frigate Cassard sounded a 21-gun salute from the part of the coast where British soldiers landed.

    When 142 veterans, dignified in their slow gait, marched past, even royalty and presidents stood to applaud.

    Earlier in the day, President Bush spoke in the American cemetery on the bluff overlooking the bloodiest of the landing beaches, Omaha, and paid tribute to the more than 9,300 Americans buried there.

    "It is a strange turn of history that called on young men from the prairie towns and city streets of America to cross an ocean and throw back the marching, mechanized evils of fascism," Mr. Bush said. "And those young men did it. You did it."

    Without mentioning the American-led war in Iraq, which France virulently opposed and would not join, Mr. Bush said the United States would be ready to make the same sacrifices again.

    "America honors all the liberators who fought here in the noblest of causes," Mr. Bush said. "And America would do it again for our friends."

    In separate remarks, Mr. Chirac called D-Day "the day hope was born." He added, "America is our eternal ally, and that alliance and solidarity are all the stronger for having been forged in those terrible hours."

    The presence of Chancellor Schröder was a bold, if complicated, gesture to signal that Europe had put its last great war behind it, and that the Germans have been embraced as part of the European family.

    At a French-German ceremony of "reconciliation" at the Caen Memorial, where the two leaders unveiled a plaque marking the occasion, Mr. Schröder made no effort to hide the history.

    "We all want peace," he said. "We Germans know that we unleashed this heinous war. We recognize the responsibility our history has laid upon us, and we take it seriously."

    But he said the German people also suffered on D-Day. "Thousands of Allied soldiers died on a single, atrocious day," he said. "They paid the ultimate price for freedom. German soldiers fell because they had been sent forth on a murderous campaign to crush Europe."

    Earlier in the day, Mr. Schröder, whose 32-year-old father was killed in combat four months after D-Day, laid a wreath on the tomb of an unknown German soldier at the Allied cemetery of Ranville. Of the 2,564 graves, 322 are German. Hundreds of residents applauded him. The presence of President Putin was different. He was invited, Mr. Chirac had explained, to honor his country's sacrifices and heroism in the defeat of the Nazis and to forge deeper bonds today between Russia and the West.

    Until now, Russia has played down the decisiveness of D-Day, emphasizing the importance of the earlier battles of Stalingrad and Kursk on the eastern front as the central events that destroyed the Nazis.

    In unscheduled remarks to journalists, he said the Allies would not have prevailed against the Nazis without the help of millions of Soviet fighters. "The meaning of the Soviet victory just cannot be disputed," he said, adding, "But we will not underestimate the role of our allies."

    Queen Elizabeth II, in shades of lilac, came to remember, with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain. So did leaders and assorted royalty from Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and New Zealand.

    Those veterans who took part in the ceremonies were hungry to tell their war stories and share their views of the current state of the world.

    Some criticized Mr. Bush for his contention in recent weeks that the American-led war in Iraq is as much a liberation from Saddam Hussein's tyranny as was the Allied liberation of Europe from the Nazis.

    From his front row seat at the Arromanches ceremony, Frederick Culbert, 84, an American who commanded a PT boat into Utah Beach, drew an imaginary map of the landing strategy with his cane. He showed off his medals, including his Legion of Honor medal awarded by France several years ago, and his cap.

    "World War II and Iraq? They're not comparable," Mr. Culbert said. "Our war had a real purpose. I'm not anti-American at all but the truth is, some wars are more useful than others. I don't quite see where this war in Iraq is leading us."

    Sam M. Gibbons, a paratrooper and former Democratic Congressman from Florida, was one of the first Americans to land behind enemy lines. He reveled at being one of 99 Americans awarded Legion of Honor medals on Saturday. But he too was critical of Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq.

    "We have to develop friendships," Mr. Gibbons said. "We just can't do it alone."

    As for the situation in Iraq, he added: "We don't have enough soldiers in Iraq. But nobody wants to go. And I can't blame them."

    Other veterans at Arromanches were uneasy in the presence of Mr. Schröder.

    "The Germans should have stayed home," said Sprague Wiseman, 83, a Canadian who was a soldier who landed at Utah Beach on D-Day. " A lot of people have forgiven the Germans. I have nothing against them, but I don't see why they should be here today."

    Monique Miquel Moncomble, 77, who was 13 when she began working with her parents at a liaison agent in the French resistance, disagreed. "Even my father, who suffered and was tortured by the Germans, used to say, "I don't hate the German people,' " she said.

    The prevailing mood of the day was one of reconciliation and remembrance. A high-tech slide and film show of World War II footage shown on 11 parallel screens at the Arromanches ceremony flashed at one point on a simple banner strung across the street of a French town after liberation. "Thank you," it read, "for deliverance."
    All your ACG posts are belong to us!

  • #2
    Re: In First, Allies and Axis Unite to Remember D-Day

    Amazing they finally honor their dead, I feel that the Germans (and Russians, don't forget the Russians) have made breakthroughs here.
    The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. -Carl Jung

    Hell is other people. -Jean-Paul Sarte

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Re: In First, Allies and Axis Unite to Remember D-Day

      Originally posted by BarcelonaBlom
      Amazing they finally honor their dead, I feel that the Germans (and Russians, don't forget the Russians) have made breakthroughs here.
      Ja! Da (?)!, Oui! Yes! I hope the West can reciprocate and send a delegation to Russia to honor Stalingrad and Kursk (or has that already been happening? if so, the West can made these commerarations more known to its citizens.)

      I also have to say that after seeing "Blackhawk Down" I was moved by the sacrifice of the sniper team at the second crashsite. After seeing the film I found a website of medal of honor recepients describing their heroism. The words that still stick in my mind from the text is after hearing about the crash they "unhesitantly volunteered" to secure the crashsite even though they knew that large numbers of the enemy were at the scene.

      This is the text on Gordon and Shughart:

      *GORDON, GARY I.

      Rank and organization: Master Sergeant, U.S. Army. Place and date: 3 October 1993, Mogadishu, Somalia. Entered service at: ----- Born: Lincoln, Maine. Citation: Master Sergeant Gordon, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as Sniper Team Leader, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. Master Sergeant Gordon's sniper team provided precision fires from the lead helicopter during an assault and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. When Master Sergeant Gordon learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the second crash site, he and another sniper unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site. After his third request to be inserted, Master Sergeant Gordon received permission to perform his volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Master Sergeant Gordon was inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon and his fellow sniper, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Master Sergeant Gordon immediately pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Master Sergeant Gordon used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers until he depleted his ammunition. Master Sergeant Gordon then went back to the wreckage, recovering some of the crew's weapons and ammunition. Despite the fact that he was critically low on ammunition, he provided some of it to the dazed pilot and then radioed for help. Master Sergeant Gordon continued to travel the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. After his team member was fatally wounded and his own rifle ammunition exhausted, Master Sergeant Gordon returned to the wreckage, recovering a rifle with the last five rounds of ammunition and gave it to the pilot with the words, "good luck." Then, armed only with his pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon continued to fight until he was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot's life. Master Sergeant Gordon's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit and the United States Army.

      *SHUGHART, RANDALL D.

      Rank and organization: Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army. Place and date: 3 October 1993, Mogadishu, Somalia. Entered service at: ----- Born: Newville, Pennsylvania. Citation: Sergeant First Class Shughart, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as a Sniper Team Member, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. Sergeant First Class Shughart provided precision sniper fires from the lead helicopter during an assault on a building and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. While providing critical suppressive fires at the second crash site, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the site. Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site. After their third request to be inserted, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader received permission to perform this volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader were inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Sergeant First Class Shughart pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Sergeant First Class Shughart used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers while traveling the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. Sergeant First Class Shughart continued his protective fire until he depleted his ammunition and was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot's life. Sergeant First Class Shughart's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit and the United States Army.

      you can find the army MOH website here:
      http://www.army.mil/cmh/Moh1.htm
      All your ACG posts are belong to us!

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm shocked that it says 9 million Russians were killed. When I was a kid it was 20 million. It was 30 million when I was a LT. I have never heard a number this low for Russian fatalities in WW2.

        Any know where this number comes from?

        JS
        Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
        Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


        "Never pet a burning dog."

        RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
        http://www.mormon.org
        http://www.sca.org
        http://www.scv.org/
        http://www.scouting.org/

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Janos
          I'm shocked that it says 9 million Russians were killed. When I was a kid it was 20 million. It was 30 million when I was a LT. I have never heard a number this low for Russian fatalities in WW2.

          Any know where this number comes from?

          JS
          Maybe that's only those in uniform and not including civilians?
          Lance W.

          Peace through superior firepower.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Lance Williams
            Maybe that's only those in uniform and not including civilians?
            Hmmm....hadn't thought of that. Sounds reasonable.

            JS
            Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
            Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


            "Never pet a burning dog."

            RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
            http://www.mormon.org
            http://www.sca.org
            http://www.scv.org/
            http://www.scouting.org/

            Comment

            Latest Topics

            Collapse

            Working...
            X