Today is the 71st anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. I found some stunning original color photos at The Denver Post, and I thought I’d share a few of them here. Go to the link to see the entire collection. I’ve also gathered some interesting articles on the “longest day” along with remembrances from survivors.
From The Charlotte Observer: D-Day: Only the beginning – with the end nowhere in sight, by David Perlmutt.
With Saturday comes another anniversary of D-Day as the light continues to dim on the generation that fought it.
Seventy-one years have passed since Carolinians such as Andy Andrews of Black Mountain and Walter Dickens of Monroe got their first taste of combat when they rushed ashore at Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, the pivotal day historians tag as the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.
It was more of a beginning than an end. Long after D-Day’s first anniversary, the bullets would continue to fly in the Pacific theater and other parts of the world.
A year ago, I wrote a series of stories to honor the 70th anniversary of D-Day through the eyes – and distant memories – of Andrews, Dickens and others like paratroopers Harold Eatmon of Mint Hill and E.B. Wallace of Waxhaw. The fighting took another 11 months and horrific losses during battles in countries such as France, Holland, Belgium and ultimately Germany before the Germans surrendered.
Fighting continued in the Pacific, where my Dad was stationed, for a long time after June 6, 1944. He was on a ship traveling to Japan when the U.S. dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He said they celebrated–not knowing the horror the bombs would unleash–they were saved. My Dad might not have come home if those bombs hadn’t been dropped.
A year after D-Day, thousands of U.S. Marine and Army troops were still two weeks away from capturing Okinawa, the last in a hopscotch of islands that Allied forces needed for a plan to force Japan’s unconditional surrender. Offshore, U.S. Navy ships absorbed daily attacks by Japanese kamikaze (suicide) planes as their guns pounded hills above the landing beaches. Army Air Forces planes bombed targets inland to soften the Japanese defense.
As they fought to take control of Okinawa, hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers, Marines and sailors prepared to take part in what would have been history’s greatest battle – Operation Olympic, code-named Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese homeland.
They knew the fighting would be fierce.
Much more at the link. It’s a very good piece.
Cornelius Ryan was a 24-year-old war correspondent when he had a chance to see a defining moment in the defining event of the 20th century — the Allied landings on the coast of France to retake France and bring down Hitler.
Ryan at first witnessed the invasion from a bomber that flew over the beaches. Then, back in England, he scrambled to find the only thing he could that was going to Normandy. A torpedo boat that, he learned too late, had no radio. “And if there’s one thing that an editor is not interested in,” he said, “it’s having a reporter somewhere he can’t write a story.”
Recalling those five hours off the coast, watching the struggle on the beaches, he remembered “the magnitude of the thing, the vastness. I felt so inadequate to describe it.”
But today, as the 71st anniversary of D-Day approaches on June 6, Ryan is most likely to be remembered for being the one who did describe it, who told so many millions the real story of what happened that day, in his book which became the famous movie, “The Longest Day.”
Lauder was a young woman headed to journalism school at Northwestern when the invasion took place.
In September 1962, I interviewed Cornelius Ryan before the New York premiere of the film. Ryan had become the authority on the events of June 6, 1944, following publication of his book. And as he himself noted, in the 10 years it took him to research and write the book, he became “a veritable depository of D-Day memorabilia.”
He shared some of what he’d learned as we talked in the study of his home in Ridgefield, Connecticut, that Sunday afternoon.
Read her remembrances at the CNN link.
The Christian Science Monitor: D-Day June 6, 1944: How did Hitler react?
Considering the pivotal nature of June 6, 1944, how did Hitler react to the attack? Did he rant, did he rail? Did he move with focused calm to try and repel the invaders? [….]
In the early days of June Germany’s Fuhrer was at The Berghof, his residence in the Bavarian Alps. Everyone there knew an invasion was likely in the near future, but the atmosphere was not nervous, according to contemporary accounts. To the contrary it was relaxed, and in the evening, almost festive. A group of guests and military aides would gather at the complex’s Tea House and Hitler would hold forth on favorite topics, such as the great men of history, or Europe’s future.
On the evening of June 5, Hitler and his entourage watched the latest newsreels, and then talked about films and theater. They stayed up until 2 a.m., trading reminiscences. It was almost like the “good old times,” remembered key Hitler associate Joseph Goebbels.
When Goebbels left for his own quarters, a thunderstorm broke, writes British historian Ian Kershaw. German military intelligence was already picking up indications of an oncoming Allied force, and perhaps landing troops, in the Normandy region. But Hitler wasn’t told. The Fuhrer retired around 3 a.m.
German headquarters confirmed that some sort of widespread attack was in progress shortly thereafter. At sunrise, around 6 a.m., the defenders knew: Allied ships and planes were massed off the French beaches in astounding strength, and men were beginning to come ashore. It was a sight many would never forget.
But the German reaction was slow and befuddled. Was this the real thing, the main invasion? Or was it a feint, with the real force to land elsewhere, probably Calais?
Read more at the link.
More D-Day stories:
The Daily Mail, D-Day heroes’ courage remembered.
AP via The Miami Herald, Vets, visitors return to Normandy to mark D-Day anniversary.
Constitution Daily, Ten fascinating facts on the 71st anniversary of D-Day.
The Daily Beast, The Stacks: A D-Day Vet Shows Normandy to His Son.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Veterans of D-Day mark 71st anniversary: 4 will be honored today at Heinz History Center.
The Nation on what was happening in Congress on D-Day–a bunch of nonsense, just like today. June 6, 1944: D-Day Invasion of France.
Before I get to the rest of the news, I want to highly recommend an HBO documentary I watched a few days ago called Tales of the Grim Sleeper. It’s the story of how serial killer Lonnie Franklin, Jr. murdered as many as 100 African-American women in South Central LA over more than 20 years while the LAPD ignored what was happening.
This isn’t the story of a serial killer–it’s about police attitudes toward the poor and people of color; and it fits right in with recent events in places like Ferguson, Cleveland, Staten Island, and Baltimore and with the Black Lives Matter movement.
This story could have happened in a poor neighborhood in any major American city. In fact, there was a similar case in Cleveland where Anthony Sowell murdered poor black women for years without getting caught because the crimes weren’t taken seriously.
If you have HBO or can get access to it, please watch this outstanding film.
Other News, links only
Brian Beutler at The New Republic, Hillary Clinton’s Grand Strategy to Beat the GOP: Take Bold Positions Early and Often.
New York Times, Beau Biden Funeral Draws Many Mourners, Including Obama.
Politico, Anti-war activist confronts Sen. Tom Cotton.
Paul Krugman, Lone Star Stumble.
Voice of America, Death Toll Jumps to Nearly 400 in China Ship Sinking.
Sexual Molestation News
Huffington Post, Dennis Hastert Hid His Skeletons As He Helped Push GOP’s Anti-Gay Agenda.
Is a crime still “alleged” after the perpetrator and his parents acknowledge that he did it? Just asking.
What else is happening? As always, treat this as an open thread.
We live in strange times. Our politics and popular culture seem to be dominated by people who pretend to be deeply religious as a cover for their own inner hypocrisy and corruption.
Two of our three branches of government controlled by right wing “christians” who give themselves permission to violate any standards of behavior while they focus obsessively on the “sins” of others. They can’t seem to stop thinking about what other people are doing in their sex lives, and they focus their attention on trying to control women’s reproductive choices.
When they aren’t trying to ban abortion and birth control and legalize forced childbirth, they seem bent on destroying any remaining vestiges of democracy and equality in our country by removing any controls on corporations and wealthy political donors. They justify the rampant violence caused by the easy availability of guns, and they defend police brutality against people whom they consider somehow “lesser” than themselves.
How did we get to this point? I can recall when American culture and media were much more dominated by what the right wingers used to call “the East Coast liberal establishment.” I recall the Supreme Court making major decisions that led to advancements in equal rights in this country. There was a time when even radicals like Noam Chomsky could get on C-Span and other TV outlets and when the Sunday shows weren’t required to have three Republicans for every Democrat allowed on the air. There was a time when people who didn’t believe in evolution and got their “science” from the bible were marginalized and dismissed as nuts.
Wasn’t there? Was it all a dream?
The latest right wing hypocrite to be exposed is former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who has been indicted for trying to manipulate bank reporting rules and lying to the FBI about it. There seems much less public concern that Hastert was doing this in order to hide the fact that he abused high school students whom he worked with as a teacher and coach.
Here’s some background on the Hastert story from Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times:
He was always thought of the “Accidental Speaker.” That’s because of the dramatic turn of events on one day – Saturday, Dec. 19, 1998 – that vaulted the relatively unknown lawmaker from Chicago’s western suburbs into the top job.
House members that day headed to the chamber for an unusual Saturday session, for what would be historic votes to impeach President Bill Clinton.The votes were to be on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, though everyone knew that Clinton got into this jam because of his sexual relationship with then White House intern Monica Lewinsky….
Republicans had lost seats in the 1998 mid-terms, with some blaming GOP leaders for aggressively pursuing the Clinton impeachment.
After the election losses, some House members asked Hastert, then the chief deputy whip under Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, to run for majority leader. But he refused because he had already promised to support to Rep. Dick Armey R-Texas….
Meanwhile, House Speaker Newt Gingrich R-Ga. decided to resign, though the public was not yet aware that he too, had been having an affair.
Gingrich threw his backing to Louisiana’s Rep. Bob Livingston.
On that fateful Saturday, members gathered in the chamber knowing that Livingston had earlier in the week admitted he was having an extramarital affair, jumping the gun on a magazine that was about to expose him.
Livingston launched into a speech on the House floor, urging Clinton to just quit.
But what happened next was a shocker. Livingston announced his own resignation.
I was in the House gallery that day and recall clearly the loud gasps and shouts from members absorbing what Livingston was doing. Suddenly, Republicans had to find a new speaker.
Sweet also mentions that the Mark Foley scandal back in 2006 may have led to Hastert stepping down as Speaker and leaving the House. Read the whole thing at the link.
Sweet doesn’t even mention the rumors about Hastert himself that were going around in 2006. Steve M. wrote a bit about it at Crooks & Liars yesterday, linking to this October 2006 Huffington Post blog by Lawrence O’Donnell: Who is Scott Palmer?
He is Speaker Hastert’s chief of staff, which makes him the key player in the what-did-Hastert-know-and-when-did-he-know-it drama. Scott Palmer has issued a statement flatly denying that Kirk Fordham, Mark Foley’s former chief of staff, warned him that Foley was crossing the line with pages long before Foley’s inappropriate email surfaced. Palmer’s denial of Fordham’s headline-grabbing claim is the thread Hastert’s Speakership is now hanging by.
In Hastert’s brief, evasive press conference on Thursday, sharp reporters immediately zeroed in on Palmer’s role in the Foley information flow. Did Hastert leap to the defense of his chief of staff’s honor in the crucial credibility contest with Kirk Fordham? Did he say I know Scott Palmer and I know he’s telling the truth? No. He avoided every question with Palmer’s name in it. Hastert obviously does not want to talk about Scott Palmer.
If Fordham did warn Palmer about Foley a long time ago, what are the odds that Palmer did not tell Hastert? As close to zero as you can get. Many chiefs of staff are close, very close, to their bosses on Capitol Hill. But none are closer than Scott Palmer is to Denny Hastert. They don’t just work together all day, they live together.
There are plenty of odd couple Congressmen who have roomed together on Capitol Hill, but I have never heard of a chief of staff who rooms with his boss. It is beyond unusual. But it must have its advantages. Anything they forget to tell each other at the office, they have until bedtime to catch up on. And then there’s breakfast for anything they forgot to tell each other before falling asleep. And then there’s all day at the office. Hastert and Palmer are together more than any other co-workers in the Congress.
Hastert was married to a woman who apparently stayed back home in Illinois while her husband shacked up with his chief of staff. Go to the link to read more.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t link to InfoWars, but they actually have published the best summary of the Hastert scandals and rumors that I’ve seen. It’s based on old stories from Wayne Madson, who is often denigrated for spreading bizarre conspiracy theories but sometimes gets stories that have some truth to them. Here’s an excerpt:
In 2006, WMR scooped the Washington media by reporting that Hastert was involved with the cover-up of a major sex scandal involving Republican congressmen and underage male pages.
WMR led off its reporting on Hastert with this September 30, 2006 report:
“Congressional sources told WMR that Hastert, while working from 1964 to 1980 as a popular history/government teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School, in Yorkville, Illinois — a suburb of Chicago — was the subject of persistent rumors about inappropriate contact with male members of his high school wrestling team. The culture of the times usually resulted in such alleged behavior being covered up by public and parochial school authorities. However, the rumors were enough for his Yorkville constituency to reject him when he ran for an open seat in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1980. However, Hastert lucked out when another sitting Republican House member who represented the three-seat district had a stroke and declined to run for re-election. The GOP machine bosses selected Hastert as the replacement candidate.
Hastert served in Springfield from 1980 to 1986, six years to make the transformation from wrestling coach with a cloud surrounding himself to politician. In 1986, Hastert received an unexpected promotion. After incumbent Republican Rep. John Grotberg was nominated by the GOP for a second term, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and fell into a coma. The Illinois Republican Convention selected Hastert as the replacement on the ticket, a virtual election to the U.S. House of Representatives in the strongly Republican district.
In 1989, when the allegations of homosexuality among GOP congressmen arose during the first ‘Pagegate”‘ scandal [the so-called “Franklin cover-up], Hastert’s name was one of those whispered.
Read the rest at the link. So even then the rumors about Hastert’s history of abuse were out there but were apparently ignored by the mainstream media. If you’re a Republican, you can get away with this kind of thing. Just look at Diaper Dave Vitter, who survived an embarrassing sex scandal and may be the next Governor of Louisiana.
Here’s Josh Marshall on Hastert and the Foley Scandal. His conclusions in the light of the recent news:
We don’t have any convictions yet. Indeed, any statute of limitations has almost certainly lapsed. So we can’t be certain of anything and we have few details. But it seems clear that Hastert himself had enough of a history of sexual abuse (though we don’t know the ages yet) that he was willing to pay $3.5 million to keep it covered up.
Adding this fact puts the whole Foley scandal in a dramatically different light – at least at the level of irony and perhaps more.
Looking back, it is hard to believe Hastert didn’t go through the weeks of the Foley scandal something like petrified that his own history would be kicked up in the storm of the Foley revelations. Indeed, this new information might explain his own awkward and oddly tentative response.
Set aside whether this past had any role in Hastert’s office’s laggard response to warnings about Foley. Hastert was hiding an explosive secret. He must have been terrified of exposure. A thundering denunciation of Foley would seem like the kind of move which almost would have invited a past victim to step forward. Perhaps that explains his reticence. At this point there’s no way to know.
I’m just throwing this stuff out there for discussion. Obviously there will be lots more coming out about Hastert’s history, including how he got rich enough to pay millions to keep his shameful secrets. Just a few more stories, links only:
CBS Chicago: Dennis Hastert To Friends: I Am A Victim, Too.
Conservative columnist John Kass at the Chicago Tribune: Dennis Hastert and the Illinois Combine.
Josh Gerstein at Politico: Dennis Hastert charges cast light on 2013 lawsuit.
Also from Politico: Hastert hometown rocked by scandal.
What are you hearing? Remember, this is an open thread. Feel free to post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and have an enjoyable weekend.
FYI: The images in this post are from Robin Schmidt’s Pinterest page, “Reading.”