June 6, 1944 is a date in history heard before.
More than sixty years have passed long since.
It has become a day almost mythical in lore.
Crosses dot Europe’s landscapes in time’s mist.
Allied forces united closely in that World War.
Now seamed faces float back as they reminisce.
One hundred sixty thousand troops sailed away.
One hundred ninety thousand delivered them.
Leaving the safety of ships and planes that day,
They hit the beaches, promising to do their best.
The day was the last sunrise of life for too many.
More than ten thousand fell, many to eternal rest.
Try to picture it all through those frightened eyes.
Five beaches were the very Gates of Hell that day.
Sword Beach, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah Beach,
Pointe du Hoc loomed ahead in the gloom of dawn.
Warriors knew blood would flow; many would die.
Imagine how silence fell as soldiers quietly prayed.
Some faced towering cliffs and mines on sticks.
The enemy was protected by bunkers of cement,
Barbed wire, mines, walls of mortar and bricks.
Obstacles lay beneath waves of raging violence.
Months of planning were held in limbo, at bay,
As Mother Nature’s desires defined all that day.
Airborne troops had to sail in the winds that blew.
Soldiers descended rope ladders into bobbing boats,
Knowing that fickle waters controlled their moves.
Artillery suppport prayed guns landed on that coast.
Soldiers and sailors had no control, only a job to do.
Not one thing that day dispelled thoughts of gloom.
Brits, Yanks, Swedes, and Canadians had to attack.
Freedom Fighters were inland, reclaiming native soil.
The largest assault ever must break Germany’s back.
The Germans had to have the westward surge foiled.
Historians tell the stories; it is not merely myth at all.
Lives and blood lost that day saved the known world.
Personal tragedy is not always in official print.
A day of remembering shows in creased brows.
A real story is beneath sterile historical reports.
Look into the faces of that generation and know
That the terror of the day lives in their trembles.
If they will speak, listen well, then pass it along.
The stories are there, the real history, dramatic.
One survivor is burdened by six decades of guilt.
He waded from Hell unhurt, still it is traumatic.
Another felt a friend explode; he was scratched.
A few steps further and then another was killed.
Later he learned his shrapnel was bone fragments.
A soldier saw his brothers exit the landing craft.
Still too far out, they stepped down twenty feet.
They drowned struggling to be free of battle gear.
Twenty nine amphibious tanks were to hit a beach.
Two made it; the others became an armored reef.
Belgian gates and Teller mines defied the assault.
Rangers scaling cliffs hung in enemy bullets’ way.
Airborne soldiers drifted with the whim of winds.
Miles from landing zones they marched to the fray.
Gliders soared but winds often blocked the descent.
Troops fought on, giving all, marching for us today.
The beginning of that War’s end started on D-Day.
Mike Mullins, 6/4/09
Michael D. "Moon" Mullins, author of "Vietnam in Verse, poetry for beer drinkers." "ViV" won the Gold Medal for poetry, 2007, from the Military Writers Society of America. The book is available on line from amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, books-a-million.com and iUniverse.com.
It is available as an audio-book from the author. Please contact me at this e-mail address; firstname.lastname@example.org or via land mail at POB 456 Windfall, In. 46076.
Vietnam Veteran, Delta 3/7, 199th Light Infantry, '68-'69.
Vice President of the Military Writers Society of America