Over at Trying to Grok, Sarah, in the following post, linked to the Dissident Frogman:
In September, my mother came to visit. We went to France, Italy, and Flossenburg. In France, my relatives asked what I wanted to do there. I said I wanted to see the American soldiers at St. Avold. They said, “Oh, do Americans work there?” To which I solemnly replied, “No, I’d like to see the soldiers who died for us.” I wanted to see Joe and Tommy.
I had never read the Dissident Frogman before this morning — in the post linked by Sarah above he has a few words about “Joe and Tommy”:
There’s nothing really spectacular on “Utah”, “Omaha”, “Gold”, “Juno” and “Sword”. Just a few, discreet monuments in the dunes.
With names. Lots of names.
However, once you’ve been told – by those who survived – what happened here, it changes everything. On Charlie, Dog, Easy and Fox sectors at “Bloody Omaha” for instance, took place one of the most outstanding exploit of the liberation of Europe, carried out by 34,000 young – so young – heroes. They won, but many were wounded and many died.
To the eye, Bloody Omaha is just a sandy beach.
No white crosses, no huge memorial, no visible signs of those who sacrificed themselves and fought for freedom. No sign of those who fell for it.
Yet I remember “Joe” and “Tommy”, heroes with no names but so many faces, who came here one day, fighters for a just cause, in a liberation army.
I was told about them, I read books about them, I saw pictures of them, and I watched interviews and movies. I heard their stories. The Joe and Tommy who got through this, told me about their brothers who didn’t.
And they show me why they didn’t fall in vain.
The kid I was that day on Omaha beach wanted to thank Joe and Tommy, but couldn’t.
More than 30 years later, having reach adulthood with their memory still fresh in my mind and not besmirched by their progeny, I understand I can.
And I hope I did.
I am Joe, I am Tommy.
Of all of the places in Europe I would like to see on my first vacation there – the only one I could not stand to miss is Normandy.