Thursday, July 4, 2019

A Teller of Weird Tales at Normandy

I have fallen far, far behind in my writing and other work and have missed so many anniversaries and other topics these past many months, but I can at least get in this brief observation. Last month was the seventy-fifth anniversary of the landings at Normandy and the cracking open of Hitler's vaunted "Fortress Europe." We would be remiss not to remember the courage and sacrifice of the men who carried out the landings and those who supported them. Their numbers are rapidly dwindling every day. It's sad to realize that in our lifetimes--we who were born into the world they made--the last of them will pass away.

This week, I finished reading D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose (Simon & Schuster, 1994). While reading, I ran across the name of a teller of weird tales, R. Ernest Dupuy (1887-1975), who, as General Eisenhower's press aide, was first to confirm to the press that the invasion had commenced by reading the following communiqué at about 9:30 a.m. London time: "Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied naval forces, supported by strong air forces, began landing Allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France." (p. 490) It's worth noting that "[t]he impluse to pray was overwhelming" in England and on the Home Front, as Stephen Ambrose observed. (p. 495) Even the New York Times got in on the act: " 'We pray for our country . . . . The cause prays for itself, for it is the cause of the God who created man free and equal.' " (p. 494) That was the New York Times that expressed that sentiment. Times--and the Times--have sure changed.

By the way, there is one other tangential connection to a teller of weird tales in the late Mr. Ambrose's book. On page 492, the author remembers that One Touch of Venus, which was playing on Broadway in June 1944, had dances by Agnes De Mille, who was a classmate of Leslyn MacDonald (1904-1981) at the University of California, Southern Branch, in the 1920s. "[T]hose were the days," he wrote. They were indeed.

Happy Independence Day, America!

Copyright 2019 Terence E. Hanley

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