Wednesday, June 6, 2007

June 6, 1944. 63 Years Ago.

First wave at Omaha. Storming the Beach.

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944 thousands of American, Canadian, and British soldiers stormed ashore at Normandy to begin the long awaited liberation of Europe. Some of the landings met little resistance. Omaha Beach was a much different story. The carnage there was beyond belief; watch the first half hour of Saving Private Ryan if you want a glimpse of what it was like. Many suffered, and many gave, what Abraham Lincoln called 'the last full measure of devotion.'

3,000 miles away in little Bedford, Virgina--situated between Lynchburg and Roanoke--Elizabeth Teass was at work in the local drugstore at the Western Union counter when the teletype machine began chattering. Reading the lines 'The secretary of war wishes me to express his deep regret,' her heart sank. But this was just the first of 19 such messages. Quaint little Bedford, a town of just 3,000, had lost 19 of her sons in the first wave on Omaha Beach. This was the greatest single day loss for any American town for the entire war.

Company A, 116th Infantry, 29th Division. Lest We Forget.

All photos taken at the National D-Day Museum, in Bedford, Virgina. April, 2004.

Post Script. At our church there is an elderly man, who if you never asked, you'd never know he was in the Army, let alone what he did. Last year on the anniversary of D-Day, our pastor asked for any former or current member of the armed forces to stand and be recognized. About thirty stood, including this old fella. Pastor Dave looked at him and asked what he was doing on June 6, 1944. The old man modestly replied, "I was soaking wet and scared to death." Turns out, he waded ashore on Utah Beach with the 4th Division.

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