Here’s a neat little article from The Times-Dispatch of a first hand account from a 92 year old American veteran of his assault on Omaha Beach. The article talks about how he is very close to one of his grandsons. The grandson mentions that the grandfather only recently began to open up about his memories of the war.
I wish every vet’s memories could be recorded for posterity before they die. We need to remember how terrible is war. I remember 32 years ago I had a job that frequently took me into people’s homes. I vividly recall meeting many veterans. I was a war buff and eagerly talked with them about their experiences. My memory is shitty but I can almost recall one guy’s face and where I was. He still called them “dirty Krauts.” This was 34 years after D-Day.
He mentioned that women could be bought for a candy bar or some rations. I remember I had a shocked expression. He just shrugged, and said something to the effect of that was the way it was. They were all just trying to survive. Ladies, that’s another compelling to be pro-strong defense. Life is living hell for the losers in a “total war.”
He didn’t seem to be hesitant in the least to discuss how it was. (I always wonder if some vets become more heroic the longer they live as the ones who were with them die off–but I am a cynic.) He seemed so old to me then. He was older than my father (who seemed so old). Holy shit. Then he was only eight years older than than I am now.
Take eight minutes and watch the beach scene.