Monday, June 06, 2016

The Longest Day

Today is the 72nd anniversary of the D-Day invasion. As a World War 2 historian, it's always a day of special significance for me. This invasion brought about the eventual liberation of Europe. But the cost was heavy, most notably on Omaha beach where the Americans suffered horrific casualties.

There have been many movies documenting this invasion. Saving Private Ryan is probably the most recent, as is the highly-acclaimed HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers, though BoB shows the airborne invasion.

My go-to movie for D-Day, however, is 1962's The Longest Day. The all-star cast, directed by noted director Daryl F. Zanuck, includes actors from the UK, America, France, and Germany: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Henry Fonda, a young Sean Connery (before he was Bond), Richard Burton, Eddy Albert, Peter Lawford, Robert Mitchum, Wolfgang Preiss, and others. Why do I turn to this movie in particular? Because it shows the invasion from every side: the French Resistance, the German Armed Forces, the US Armed Forces, the Free French, and the British Armed Forces. And it shows the perspectives of regular soldiers, generals, and civilians - actual men and women who were involved in the D-Day invasion.

If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend taking the time to do so. It doesn't show the horrors of battle nearly as well as newer movies - i.e. you won't have to worry about seeing blood and guts. But that doesn't diminish it's power.

I can only imagine what it was like to be a part of this day. What a mammoth, incredible undertaking it was, an invasion that liberated the people of Europe enslaved to Hitler's fanaticism. Thank God they succeeded.

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