Saturday, February 04, 2006

On The Deaths of Soldiers

This account of little Bedford, Virginia, which lost so many of its men on D-Day, stirred me to tears. I could actually see young Elizabeth Teass turn on her telegraph machine, and after sending the message saying her office was open and ready to receive telegrams, got the reply "We have casualties." Weeks after the D-Day invasion, after no word created an eerie silence in town, the telegraph machine started its staccato song. And it didn't stop for quite some time.

This was quality story-telling.

What struck me most, though, was this quote from the local newspaper a few days later, when the reports of Bedford's Company A made the front page:

Nothing we can say will soften the blow that has fallen upon these homes. We can only point out that these Bedford men have given their lives in the same cause for which men in all ages have made the supreme sacrifice - the preservation of the ideals of liberty and justice toward which mankind has been struggling since the dawn of time. The world has moved forward over the bodies of countless millions who laid down their lives rather (than) submit to bondage. No one has died entirely in vain when death came in the cause of justice and freedom. . . .

It was true then, and it's true today.

Update, June 3, 2007: The link above is, unfortunately, no longer active. I've contacted the Times Dispatch to see if they can/will send me the entire story so I can post it for Wednesday's D-Day anniversary.

Update #2, 6/4/07: After contacting the Times Dispatch, they sent me the new link to the story. Something about migrating to a new server or something. I've updated the link above.

Update #3, 6/6/09: And now that link is bad. I've contacted them. *sigh*


Mike T said...

I read an article on the planning for D-Day and it gave you some insight into Ike’s thinking. He chose the two divisions for specific reasons. The 1st Infantry was full of battle-hardened veterans. The 29th Infantry was a National Guard unit where everyone knew each other. Ike knew they would stand and fight. They wouldn’t desert their family and friends. But Ike also knew he needed that, especially in the first few days of the invasion.

Darren said...

Back in school I gave a presentation about how weather forecasting, which was at the time in its infancy, played such a big role in determining the actual date of the invasion.