Today, June 6th, is a special date from WWII because this is when “Operation Overlord” began, which is also known as D-Day.
Quick D-Day overview from History.com
“Eisenhower selected June 5, 1944, as the date for the invasion; however, bad weather on the days leading up to the operation caused it to be delayed for 24 hours.
On D-day, June 6th, 1944 “156,000 American, British, and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and required extensive planning. Prior to D-Day, the Allies conducted a large-scale deception campaign designed to mislead the Germans about the intended invasion target. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring (1945) the Allies had defeated the Germans. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.”
This spring, here at the Priorhouse, we have enjoyed some WWII documentaries and movies. I will share some quick reviews at the end of this post.
I wanted to explore more of the WWII dates for my own general understanding – like how WWI – then the inter-war years – contributed to WWII. And perhaps more about how the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War followed. One of the things that spurred this “history viewing” was earlier this year I was caught off guard with some WWII dates. I loosely had my WWII dates down, but someone was trying to say that WWII ended in 1948. It was an “aside convo” that came up while we were busy taking care of a project so I did not debate the topic – but I knew I was going to research and check facts. FYI – here are the dates (and I was right, the war ended in ’45 and not sure why he said ’48)
Virginia War Memorial
Now – the Photos for today’s post – images from the War Memorial in Richmond, Virginia (here)
I have driven by this Memorial for years and finally had the chance to visit in early spring.
I originally planned on sharing this post for a Thursday Doors post, which is why I grabbed some details of the handles.
There are so many little areas to explore at the Virginia War Memorial. The yellow-rose garden offered a nice place for reflection.
This next photo is my favorite photo from our visit that sunny afternoon.
I was appreciating freedom, feeling grateful to those that have fought to protect the freedom we enjoy today. Then, I looked up and saw this graduate having an informal photo shoot. So many thoughts came my way as I watched this African-American young lady take photos with her cap and gown. It was promising and left the essence of progress and hope.
History Shows Recap
Here are six history movies/series we watched so far this year:
- WWII in Color (2009) (here) This series was informative and had great retouched, color footage, but some episodes were dull. It felt like grade-school history class videos. Yawn. We did not get through all episodes yet.
- Greatest Events of WWII in Color (2019) (here) This series was excellent and might be my favorite WWII series so far. Each episode had excellent flow to let us move with the action while using old footage and good pacing (I guess that faster pacing – compared to the 2009 series- shows that today’s culture demands a quicker pace). The narrating, editing, and story telling was gripping. My favorite episodes were Battle of Midway (the Captain that decoded that Midway was the target that was going to be attacked is an unsung hero) and Blitzkrieg (all the drugs that Nazi soldiers used to attack over a three-day “blitz” period made you wonder more about Hitler’s sedated state as the war went on).
- The 12th Man (2017) (here) is a slow moving film – but it had excellent acting and setting details. This Norwegian history drama allows us to follow Jan Baalsrud, the 12th man who was on the run after the other 11 members of his group were captured by Nazis in 1943. The frigid, snowy setting was felt and the effective acting was appreciated. The screenwriters reversed the reveal of the story and near the end of the movie we learn more about how Jan ended up on the run. In my view, it was much too late to give us details about how he encountered the enemy and escaped Nazi capture. It was like someone was telling a story in a monotone voice and you feel asleep before they got to the exciting part.
- We Go in at Dawn (2020) (here) is a movie that depicts the true story of soldier John Seabourne (maybe he was a real-life Jason Bourne kind of weapon) and Ellie Belrose (a French resistance fighter) as they planned a covert operation to rescue Victor Lawrence (a high-ranking captured soldier who knew the plans about D-Day and revealing this could have impaired the surprise attack). The acting was SO bad in this movie. Or was it the writing? I think it was both. This was painful to watch at times (really). However, the high-tech camera and video clarity provided some tasty visuals – like the old typewriter keys moving at the beginning and the bright red on the fabric. Maybe the video quality was appreciated after watching series with old WWII footage. Either way, the shoddy writing for this story and the viscous flow with below-average acting was dreadful; it reminded me of a few other shows that had below average acting (i.e The Americans’ lead actress, Homecoming with Roberts not at her best, etc.). Also, it was not plausible that Victor really opened the door and in a Terminator-like fashion declared, “I AM…. Victor Lawrence” – Sigh.
- The Liberator (2020) (here) caught my attention because it was narrated by Mike Rowe (we met him in Short Pump a few years ago) and the screenplay was written by Jeb Stuart (not sure if it is the same Jeb, but in 2003 I had a student with that name so I was curious). In four episodes, The Liberator uses a comic/cartoon filter to depict the story of Captain (and then Major) Felix Sparks and the Thunderbirds, a group of diverse soldiers, who were somewhat misfits. The episodes chronicle their battles moving through Italy into Nazi-occupied Europe. The first episode was rather b-flat and I was not going to return to watch the rest. However, I showed my spouse the show and we decided to watch episode two and it looped us in and we finished the series. The real-life details at the end added a nice touch. I am not sure how much we like the comic/cartoon filter they use for movies and shows, but in The Liberator the filter had a modern freshness that many folks might appreciate – maybe even younger folks, which could help them explore more history. So many people need to stir up appreciation for what they have during this time of wealth and prosperity.
- The Ghost Army (2013) (here) tells the story of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops (January 1944). The Ghost Army was the first mobile, multimedia, tactical deception unit. They pooled together engineers, soldiers, officers, draftees, and artists, which included “fashion designer Bill Blass, fine painter Ellsworth Kelly, and photographer Art Kane.” The 23rd had more than 20 large-scale deceptions where this creative team helped divert enemy soldiers – including helping with D-Day. The movie gave us interviews with the artists as they shared staging details, clever ideas, trickery, and showed artist sketches. We also had some raw war footage from various locations. The Ghost Army details remained classified until the 1980s and this 2013 movie left us wanting to watch more about their operations and experiences during the war.