A Momentous Day

Posted: Friday, June 06, 2008 by Travis Cody in

Today is the 64th commemoration of the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, otherwise known as D-Day. Over 6900 warships and transport vessels carried more than 850,000 men across the English Channel. Between 130,000 and 156,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June, with more than 10,260 killed or wounded in action, captured, or missing on that first day.

I honor all of these men today, and thank them for the freedoms and the life I enjoy.

I cannot listen to the theme music from Band of Brothers without being profoundly moved...every time.

The men of E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne participated in many of the major engagements of World War II in the European theater from June 1944 through May 1945. This is some of their history.

Formed 1 July 1942, Camp Toccoa GA, 132 enlisted, 8 officers

Jump training Dec 1942, Fort Benning GA

Landed in England 15 Sept 1943

Easy Company jumped into France on 6 June 1944 as part of the D-Day invasion. Very few men actually landed at the proper drop zones. Even scattered as they were, members of Easy took out a battery of 105mm Howitzers that were targeting Utah beach. At D-Day plus 34, Easy Company and the rest of the 506 had taken the strategic town of Carentan and were on their way back to England for rest and re-fit.

On 17 Sept 1944, Easy jumped into Holland as part of Operation Market Garden to seize bridges and try to open a way into the German Rhineland. Ultimately the operation was unsuccessful, but the 101 achieved the majority of its objectives.

The 506 moved into the northeast quandrant of the ring around Bastogne, and Easy was assigned defensive positions east of the Bastogne-Foy Road. After enduring the frigid temperatures, almost constant shelling, and scattered probing attacks from the final major German offensive of the war, Easy went on the offensive, regaining ground lost during the Battle of the Bulge and pushing into Hagenau.

Easy Company was given the honor of capturing Hitler's Eagles Nest outside of Berchtesgarden in April 1945.

6 June 1944 was the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. But there were still 336 days until the Germans finally surrendered on 8 May 1945. And there were still so many D Days left in the Pacific before the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese surrendered on 15 August 1945, and formally signed the surrender documents on 2 September 1945.

The 6th of June has dual significance...

Forty years ago, on 6 June 1968, Robert Kennedy was assassinated in the kitchen of the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles.

Would he have become President in November 1968? We don't know. He won the California primary by about 5%. Prior to that he had lost the Oregon primary and would likely have dropped out of the race if he had lost in California.

It is clear that the Democratic Party lost momentum after the assassination. The country was in turmoil. Political radicalism was rampant. Protests against the war in Vietnam were becoming increasingly more virulent and violent.

We can't know if Robert Kennedy would have won the general election. We can't know what kind of President he would have been had he survived and won.

We can surmise that this country might be much different today than it is.

The world changed on 6 June 1944. It changed again on 6 June 1968.

Of lesser import to the world, but of note to sports fans, there is a symmetry between the spring of 1968 and the spring of 2008.

Forty years ago, the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. It was Boston's 10th title in 12 years. The Celtics have won 16 NBA championships, with the last one in 1986.

The Lakers have won 14 titles, the last coming on the end of three in a row in 2002.

This is the 12th time the franchises have met in the NBA Finals. Boston won the first 8 and the Lakers have won the last 3 leading into this year's best of 7. But there's no history between these two teams. The media can make whatever they want of it, but these are not the Boston and LA teams from the 50's, 60's, 70's, or 80's. They haven't competed against each other for anything significant until last night.

So I'll pass on the hype and just enjoy this series. Of course I'm rooting for my Lakers, but I can't summon the passionate dislike I used to have for the Celtics.

Of course, that could change at any time.

Last night, Boston won game 1. The Celtics are a damn good defensive team, and now the Lakers need to adjust. This is the first time LA has trailed in the playoffs, so now we'll see if they can bounce back and tie the series on Sunday.

I struggled with my internet connection last night. Blogs crashed several times. Hopefully things will settle down this weekend, and I can enjoy the Peace posts from Wednesday and catch up on my favorites too.


  1. Great history here. I need to learn more about this time period.

  1. DrillerAA says:

    My dad was is in the Navy stationed in the South Pacific. He was a part of the task force that invaded Iwo Jima and several other islands.
    We will never truly know what these men and women experienced. War cannot be explained to those who have never experienced it. These men and women indeed saved this world from two evil empires and are rightly called, "The Greatest Generation."

  1. I was only six-and-a-half when RFK was assassinated, but recall seeing the news clips over and over on the television with my parents. They were profoundly moved by this, so it had a big impact on me as well.

  1. It would have been a completely different world if RFK had won. I'm not sure if he would have been a good president or not, but if he had won there would have been no Nixon, no watergate, just imagine the difference.

  1. Sandee says:

    My dad was in the army, but not at Normandy. That was indeed a horrific day for many. Excellent post Travis. You are indeed a very patriotic blogger. I thank you for that and I thank them everyday for all my freedoms. Have a great day and weekend sweetie. Big hug to you, Pam and Mr. Tucker. :)

  1. What an incredible post Travis...THANK YOU FOR SHARING this all today...

  1. For years I read a lot about D Day. I had an interest in majoring in history, and would have specialized in WWII, but eventually picked Psych instead. But what an incredible heroic event.

    As for Robert Kennedy's assasination, that is the only time I remember seeing my father weep. That was profoundly influential.

  1. Jeni says:

    Not being a basketball fan, I'll take your word for the significance of the date. But your choice of recognizing June 6, 1944 and June 6, 1968 -for the events that occurred on those dates - both were very profound.
    The major events of 1968, beginning with the assassination of Dr. King, followed by Robert Kennedy's death, created a firestorm, you could say, where I was working then. Those events caused so many people to reach out and join the Nat'l Rifle Association, that our department (membership) was totally deluged in membership applications as our rolls went over a million members that summer.
    As for D-Day, sometimes I think I have a bit of war monger in me because I really like to watch movies about WW2 in particular, read books -fiction and non-fiction alike about WW2 mainly but I also enjoy reading about other wars too.
    And your mention of the "Band of Brothers" -same reaction here too -the music to that program really grabs me -as does the program itself. Great post, Trav!

  1. Linda says:

    Some great history here, Travis. And two such sad events on the same day though many years apart.

  1. 1968 was a watershed year for the United states. Not many years have a shelf of books written about them. Your posts are alwasy excellent. You outdid yourself on this one.

  1. Travis: WWII era history is my favorite period.

    Drilleraa: We owe them a huge debt.

    Songbird: I was 4 and I don't have a memory of the time.

    John: Perhaps he could have healed the culture wars, and perhaps we could have avoided this huge split we've got between conservative and liberal. We'll just never know.

    Sandee: Horrific indeed, and full of heroes.

    V: Certain days should always be remembered.

    Charles: I enjoy WWII era history as a hobby now. There are so many smaller pieces of the whole, and so many inspiring stories of the time.

    Jeni: I also enjoy WWII movies, but I wouldn't say it's because of an enjoyment of war. I think it's more because so many of those movies tell the stories of ordinary men doing extraordinary things because those things needed to be done.

    Linda: Some dates can seem like magnets for history.

  1. you and sarge, both softees... great post trav.

    smiles, bee

  1. Nice post trav, I was so moved by Band of Brothers that I bought the box set from the history channel and gave it to my grandkids, people need to remember these wonderful people and what they did for us.

  1. My father was in France in WWII. He was among the "Brave Men of Metz" (who referred to themselves as the "Dead Men of Metz.") I'm sure he seriously toned down his war stories when we were kids, but they inspired crocodile tears nonetheless & I can hardly imagine what it must have really been like.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    My uncle was there on D-day, thankfully he came home.

    Thanks for remembering Trav. x

  1. Jeff B says:

    The History Channel meets ESPN. You are so very good with the details within your posts.

  1. This is a terrfic post on all counts. Your tribute to WWII and our current forces to the Celts-Lakers. Good job!!

  1. Black Cat says:

    Thank you so much for this informative post and for visiting my blog. I long for peace in the world but know sometimes we have to fight evil, literally, because we cannot just close our eyes and turn our backs. Would that it were otherwise... Blessings on those who fight to protect us and to people like you who can see the bigger picture. :) xxx

  1. j says:

    I knew that it was the day that Robert Kennedy was shot but D Day has skipped my mind. Thank you for the reminder of the precious cost of freedom.

    Be blessed Travis.


  1. j says:

    Your comment made me laugh! Thanks.


  1. Travis - Thank you for commemorating these days in our history. I, too, honor those who gave their lives for my freedom. You account is admirable, thorough, and well-written.

    I have been listening today, and reading, about Robert Kennedy. A book of his speeches I keep on a table in the living room.

    You said it correctly, "We can't know if Robert Kennedy would have won the general election. We can't know what kind of President he would have been had he survived and won.
    We can surmise that this country might be much different today than it is."

    What if?

  1. Kimmie says:

    Hi Travis,
    You taught me alot more than I knew about this war with all your specific details. Thank You for that. I love to read the history of the Civil War. That war has always seemed to mystify me.

  1. Janna says:

    You are a wealth of information!

    If I ever win a zillion dollars, I'm going to hire you to just sit around and teach me stuff.

    Warning: My TV doesn't work, so you won't be able to watch any dancing programs.

    Crap! I just ruined everything by mentioning that, didn't I...

  1. Shelby says:

    I haven't seen Band of Brothers.. that clip was outstanding as was the music for it. Enjoyed reading about the history of the group of men.

    Yes - Boston Celtics play tonite! Guess you know who I'm for..

    When I woke up this morning, first thing I asked tho was - 'how's our horse doing?'... referring to Big Bear who had major problems yesterday at the Belmont Stakes.

    Happy Sunday!

  1. My Grandfather (on my dad's side) parachuted into Normandy with the Screaming Eagles. My other grandfather helped liberate Bergen Belsen. They really were The Greatest Generation and I wish their instinctive "do the right thing" would replace the current "do the easy thing" mentality.

    As for Bobby, the Ripples of Hope speech sum up to me why we lost the best of the Kennedy boys that day.

  1. Jamie: Thanks. For my family, 1968 ended in hope with the birth of my sister on 2 Dec.

    Bee: Awwww shucks.

    Sarge: I have the box set as well, and bought it for my stepdad. He is an amazing amateur historian and we have such wonderful discussions about history in general, and WWII in particular.

    Lana: I'm so grateful for the oral history projects, so that the experiences of the men who fought in WWII won't be lost.

    Akelamalu: I'm grateful to your uncle for his service.

    Jeff: I wasn't sure I should mix the basketball in with this post, but there was symmetry in the dates and sports history is also relevant in our world.

    Bud: Thanks!

    Black Cat: It's a complicated world and to view it only in black and white terms seems so short-sighted.

    Jennifer: I'm grateful to people who do what needs to be done.

    Mimi: Pivotal points in history take us down a path, and we make the best of what we find. Even in the Allied victory of WWII are the seeds of future conflict in southeast Asia, eastern Europe, and the Arab countries. So the best possible outcome for some was the worst outcome for so many others.

    Kimmie: War does have a mystifying effect, doesn't it?

    Janna: I do try. Now if you had a zillion dollars, you could get a tv that works! Then I'd come and school you during the day and I'd teach you a love of dance shows at night!

    Shelby: Band of Brothers is worth your time. As for the Celtics, I'm rooting for my Lakers but I do hope that Paul Pierce can play. We want to try and beat Boston at full strength if we can.

    Starrlight: You know, our grandfather's generation may have paved the way for the "do the easy thing" mentality. Some have taken the lesson that important work takes sacrifice, while others have accepted the willing sacrifices of others without consideration. And that is truly a shame.

  1. Travis, you are the first blogger I've run into that remembered June 6th - D Day! Nothing on TV or the radio either. Very nice post! And thanks for the song!

  1. Gattina says:

    This war took 70 million people's live and mostly civilians. Terrible !

  1. RW says:

    Very nice tribute there Travis!

  1. Carolyn says:

    This was a great post. I'm a Band of Brothers fanatic and a WWII history buff. I watch and read anything and everything I can get my hands on. I agree with you that the Band of Brothers music is profoundly moving. Just listening to it now I almost started to cry. The year Band of Brothers came out as a DVD set I got it for Christmas. I've watched all ten hours of it about 6 or 7 times (at least), including every year around D-Day and Remembrance Day. It's incredible. Have you seen Ken Burns' The War? Amazing documentary.

    Anyway, sorry for the hijack, but I'm crazy for Band of Brothers. Thanks for sharing, and for the interesting duality regarding the date.

  1. Because of the many stories I heard over the years from my grandfather, I'm very interested in WWII history. Great post Trav!

  1. Teach: I'd feel awful if I didn't post some WWII history on such an important day. There are so many significant dates in military history...the least I can do is commemorate as many as I can.

    Gattina: The toll in lives was truly horrific.

    Roger: Thank you Sir!

    Carolyn: Hijack away! My stepdad and I have shared so many great conversations kicked off by our mutual love of this program. I haven't seen the Ken Burns' show, but I've been meaning to check it out.

    TJ: I wish I had more stories from my grandpa.