As Stephen Ambrose said, “The American citizen soldiers knew the difference between right and wrong, and they didn’t want to live in a world in which wrong prevailed. So they fought, and won, and all of us, living and yet to be born, must be profoundly grateful.”
Stephen Ambrose conducted more than 1,400 interviews with D-Day veterans for his epic book, D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of WWII. Here are a few passages from the soldier’s viewpoint that we hope will inspire you to read his book.
“Pvt. Robert Fruling said he spent two and a half days at Pointe-du-Hoc, all of it crawling on his stomach. He returned on the twenty-fifth anniversary of D-Day “to see what the place looked like standing up.” (Louis Lisko interview, EC).
“On the edge of town, Fitzgerald saw a sight “that has never left my memory. It was a picture story of the death of one 82nd Airborne trooper. He had occupied a German foxhole and made it his personal Alamo. In a half circle around the hole lay the bodies of nine German soldiers. The body closest to the hole was only three feet away, a potato masher [grenade] in its fist. The other distorted forms lay where they had fallen, testimony to the ferocity of the fight. His ammunition bandoliers were still on his shoulders, empty of M-1 clips. Cartridge cases littered the ground. His rifle stock was broken in two. He had fought alone and, like many others that night, he had died alone. “I looked at his dog tags. The name read Martin V. Hersh. I wrote the name down in a small prayer book I carried, hoping someday I would meet someone who knew him. I never did.”
“When you talk about combat leadership under fire on the beach at Normandy,” Ellery concluded, “I don’t see how the credit can go to anyone other than the company-grade officers and senior NCOs who led the way. It is good to be reminded that there are such men, that there always have been and always will be. We sometimes forget, I think, that you can manufacture weapons, and you can purchase ammunition, but you can’t buy valor and you can’t pull heroes off an assembly line.”
Travel on our D-Day Tour
Stephen Ambrose also said, “The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.”
At Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours, we love the past, and fully embrace our founder’s sentiment about is being a source for the future. We also believe that learning about history enriches your life in the here and now. By all means, read D-Day, June 6, 1944. Better yet, live history at the places where it was made. Travel with our full-time historians, who worked with Stephen Ambrose and walked the battlefields with D-Day veterans, on our 2017 D-Day to the Rhine and Operation Overlord Tours.