June 6 being my birthday, I have been aware of D-Day ever since childhood. Back then it seemed like a neat thing to be so connected with a history making day. I ecall when I was 7 or 8 seeing a little rabbit in a store. On its head the pattern in its fur was in the shape of a V. “V,” of course stood for Victory (over the Nazis and Japanese)–and each week at school I bought 2 or 3 Victory Stamps to paste into my Victory Stamp Book, my part in helping finance the War. The sign on the rabbit cage informed us that it was born on June 6.
In the new issue of Visual Parables columnist Doug Sweet offers short reviews of a shelf full of D-Day books and movies. There’s the 1962 The Longest Day; I now watch the screen heroics of John Wayne in it (and a bunch of other WW 2 movies he starred in) with a certain amount of irony–I’ve read the wonderful book that Doug reviews, Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, in which the wartime experience of four Hollywood directors are chronicled, and the author pointedly mentions that Wayne preferred his career over volunteering for service overseas where they were shooting real bullets.
Steven Spielberg’s powerful Saving Pvt. Ryan would have destroyed my childhood view of war and its glory, had I not already moved beyond it to regard war as the ultimate human folly. At least the bloody struggle on the beaches of Normandy on this day 70 years ago lived up to the Allies’ propaganda claim that the War was a struggle between Good & Evil. Though our side was tainted with racism and such, the Japanese-Americans rounded up & incarcerated in the internment camps at the time were treated far better than the Jews in Nazi camps. It did make a difference that those brave men rushing to get off the beach prevailed over the German forces.
By the way, the mention of getting off the beach reminds me that the review of the new Tom Cruise film EDGE OF TOMORROW is posted. This is a far better film than I had expected.