70 years ago – D-Day


Some British actors are rereading BBC news announcements from D-Day itself, at the same time of the day as they were originally broadcast. HERE  Patrick Stewart, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones.  The original “D-Day has come” HERE.



24000 men from these USA, Britain and Canada landed in France in Operation Neptune and the began the beginning of the end, Operation Overlord.

How I honor them.




I recently watched again the series Band of Brothers, which can only in a pale way bring some of the events to the minds eye of one who was not there.  It is based on Stephen Ambrose’s book.


The Great Roman Fabrizio sent along this photo of Mass being celebrated on the beach after D-Day.  I think the organ is a nice touch:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kerry says:

    Father, you will know, in St. Paul, Connie’s Ice Cream. We used to live just up the street. Several years ago now, in line the man in front of me said, “Yeah, I shouldn’t be here. I was in three invasions”. “Excuse me” I asked, “Wwould that have been North Africa, Sicily and Normandy”?
    “Yes”. “What beach at Normandy”? “Omaha”, he says.
    “What wave”? ….
    “The first wave”.
    We stand on these men’s shoulders, and, God help us if we forget it.

  2. acardnal says:

    Thank you to the men who fought and died on D-Day. Requiem aeternam to those who gave their lives in the battle.

  3. Lucas says:

    Band of Brothers is great but my cousin who was on Omaha said Saving Private Ryan was the most accurate he had ever seen.

  4. robtbrown says:

    Ike was from Abilene, which is about 50 miles from Pilsen, the home of Fr Kapaun.

    Band of Brothers is not about the landing at Omaha Beach but the 101st who the night before the Normandy Invasion jumped behind the Germany coastal fortifications to try to interfere with German attacks on the landing units.

    The daughter of a friend is now at Benning in the first week of Jump School. Both her parents had their jump wings.

  5. acardnal says:

    D-Day ceremony is “live” on C-SPAN2 now for those interested.

  6. Imrahil says:

    Great Catholic scene from a great movie about great deeds:


    That said, there were also some Free Frenchmen, especially at some beaches other than Omaha.

  7. iPadre says:

    That’s a pretty big maniple he’s wearing.

  8. Imrahil says:

    Dear Lucas, do you think it an expectable action of a soldier to burden a subordinate, after rescuing him, with a feeling of shame to suffer his entire life from? I wouldn’t think so, at least not most of them. I would think “if you do get home, say hello to my family for me” a far more natural last-words than “earn this”.

    Otherwise, yes, Saving Private Ryan was quite accurately detailed.

  9. dans0622 says:

    Thanks, Father. As an aside, I am amused with the volume on the BBC recreations going up to 11.

  10. acardnal says:

    Pope Benedict XVI, “If there ever was in history a bellum justum, it was certainly this one, . . . . Such a finding seems important to me, because it shows, based on a historical event, the unsustainable character of an absolute pacifism.”
    June 5, 2004


  11. Robbie says:

    I visited the Normandy invasion beaches the last weekend of May 2010. It was quite an experience and one I soon won’t forget. The craters in and around Point du Hoc, the paratrooper hanging from the church tower, Pegasus Bridge, the view looking up at the bluffs on Omaha Beach, the view looking down at Omaha Beach, and the American cemetery are sights everyone should make an effort to see. In fact, the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach is one of the most beautiful and serenely peaceful place you could ever visit. We even stopped at a German cemetery not too far from Point du Hoc.

    If anyone ever visits Paris and has a day in which they can’t decide what to do, a day trip up to Normandy is worth every minute.

  12. benedetta says:

    Freedom from tyranny is worth struggle.

  13. Sonshine135 says:

    Thank God for mighty men like this. It is humbling to think that these men fought and died for the freedom of the entire world. I often wonder if we could pull it off again knowing how hedonistic and self-centered our nation has become. We are forgetting what these people did.

  14. JonPatrick says:

    The Life Magazine site has some nice color pictures under “Before and after D-Day” including one of a priest saying Mass in a sun dappled grove of tress, the altar set up on a table but with the candles, cloth, altar cards etc. and everyone devoutly kneeling. Also a wounded soldier receiving communion and the Last Rites in another picture. Very moving.

    It made me think of my father who passed away in October 2006 but was a veteran of the Royal Navy and ferried troops on a landing craft on D-Day. Please pray for him as although he was raised Catholic he fell away from the Church, I pray that he accepted Jesus at the end.

  15. pledbet424 says:

    I think of what those men went through, and I am ashamed of my hesitation of going outside to feed the livestock because of the mosquitoes.

  16. Cafea Fruor says:

    Well, whaddaya know. ALL those soldiers, and nary an extraordinary Eucharistic minister in sight. Surely, if ever there were a case for them, wouldn’t a bunch of exhausted, probably injured, soldiers who’s just been through D-Day have an excuse for them, so they wouldn’t have to wait so long? Proof to me that extraordinary EMs aren’t so necessary in your typical Sunday Mass… If these guys could handle a little wait, I think we all can, too. We’re total wimps these days and need to take a lesson from these brave men.

    Anyway, I had a high school teacher who had been in D-Day. He would never talk about that day, but you could tell it had affected him greatly. He was such a humble, faithful man, and a good example for all of us. Until you knew him, you’d think he was being rude because he always yelled, but if you were in his class, you learned that a shell on D-Day exploded so close to him that it destroyed his hearing (that was the only detail he’d ever tell you about that day). Aside from the yelling, he was one of the gentlest men you could ever meet. He died about 15 years ago, and every D-Day, I like to remember him and pray for him. Requiescat in pace!

  17. Robert_Caritas says:

    According to this web page, the photo of the mass was taken on the 12th of June at Omaha Beach: http://www.schola-sainte-cecile.com/2014/06/05/6-juin-1944-6-juin-2014-70eme-anniversaire-du-debarquement-la-messe-de-toujours-dans-la-guerre/

    There are also some more good photos over there.

  18. pannw says:

    Thank you, Father Z, particularly for the picture of Mass. (I’ve made it my desktop.) I love the combat boots. I think all priests should wear them all the time. It is so very fitting.

    [My regular daily wear, at least in colder weather. I am wearing a shorter version as I write. Note the Fox River socks, which were the brand we promoted for the soldiers in Afghanistan. They are great.]


  19. Theodore says:

    I watched the opening scene on saving Private Ryan this morning to remind myself how horrific this must have been. It made me cry.

    BTW, a distant cousin of mine was awarded the MOH for his actions on Utah Beach on that horrible day.


  20. LarryW2LJ says:

    Many prayers being offered this day for the souls of the brave men who “gave all” on D-Day. I am about to leave work for lunch break, to spend a few minutes before the Blessed Sacrament at a parish near here which offers all day Adoration on Fridays. I will bring those prayers directly before the Lord.

    Father Z – may I poke a stick in a hornet’s nest, and ask a rhetorical question? If those brave men, who fought so valiantly on those beaches can kneel down and receive the Lord on their tongues – what’s our excuse?

  21. Cantor says:

    Fifty-some years ago, our brand new church had one of those Army field organs and the pastor asked me, a scrawny junior high kid, to be organist. (Our previous “older” organist couldn’t handle pumping those two pedals that worked the bellows.) I never thought about it until seeing this photo, but I wonder what sort of tales that organ could tell!

  22. David Zampino says:


    You may enjoy this book just published called “Operation Neptune”. It was written by a long-time professor of history at the United States Naval Academy. I really enjoyed it. HERE

  23. StephenGolay says:

    It’s not D-Day, but nothing beats the flyover and jump that’s depicted in “A Bridge Too Far”.

    A film produced before the digital frazzle-dazzle – and, maybe, a bit too “composed” for that – but it reveals the souls of men, and the soul of war.

  24. BigRed says:

    May the earth rest lightly on their bones.

    (My paraphrase from Rick Atkinson’s “The Guns At Last Light”)


  25. Priam1184 says:

    I visited Omaha beach in 2002. Walking through the American cemetery on the bluff overlooking that beach was, strangely enough, one of the most profoundly peaceful experiences of my life. It is important to remember though that this peace, like all peace in this fallen world, was bought at a high price.

  26. Bea says:

    Here’s a youtube video of Pope Pius XII blessing the troops in June 1944 at the Vatican
    Wish I could have said: “Pope Saint Pius XII” but God knows.


  27. Mike says:

    My father was a staff sergeant in the 97th Quartermaster Railhead Company. His experience in France included going days and nights without sleep, hauling equipment and supplies all over France and the Low Countries — and somehow, among it all, finding time to pay a visit to a French church that moved him profoundly, evidently enough to impel him toward conversion from Presbyterianism in the late 1950s a few years before I was born.

    Thank you, Dad, for what you did to save my country and my soul. May you rest in peace.

  28. These men truly were from the Greatest Generation. God-fearing, traditional marriage honoring, noble men of good character, and true children of God.

  29. Charles E Flynn says:

    Five Ways D-Day Could Have Been a Disaster, by Michael Peck, for the National Interest.

  30. NoraLee9 says:

    My dad was in Alaska, launching planes and preparing for the invasion of Japan. I’m here because the Enola Gay deployed.
    My husband’s father was actually wounded in hand-to-hand combat, bayoneted by a German and he was never really “right” again. I had some scary times working in publics schools, being shot at, and stabbed (at work) one time, but no one ever bayoneted me and I always had the feeling that no matter how stupid things got, I would live to collect my City Pension. I can’t even imagine the courage it took to land at Utah. Talk about facing one’s own mortality. In the little town where I grew up, almost all the men my father’s age fought in the war. We sent a generation to Korea and later my brother did two tours in South East Asia. I don’t think I realized until I became a mother however that war is not a team sport. I am so proud of that Greatest Generation today, and of all the soldiers, whether they gave some or gave all, today.

  31. Martlet says:

    We owe so much to these brave men. I spent much of yesterday watching the TV, listening to the speeches and the interviews. Later, I followed Fr. Z’s link and listened to BBC announcements from that day and started bawling. It was so easy to imagine my grandmother, pregnant with her fifth child, turning up the wireless to hear the 8:00 a.m. news. I could imagine her hushing her school-age children and could see, in my mind’s eye, my pretty young mother, barely into her teens, stopping mid-mouthful during breakfast. I tried to imagine their excitement, the chatter when they got to school. I wondered what my grandfather was doing, how quickly the news might have spread, where he worked. He had been an air raid warden and had often taken my mother out with him on patrols. And then I realised that my generation is the last to hear the stories from that Greatest Generation’s own mouths. I thought of my own children, now in their forties, and my grandchildren for whom D-Day is as far away as the Boer War was to me. Will they, I wondered, understand that, but for the brave men of every nation that participated in the Normandy landing, they would not exist?

  32. Volanges says:

    Went to the D-Day Commemoration celebration in Ottawa, ON, yesterday. Before the commemorative part they welcomed a loan to the Aviation and Space Museum from the RAF, of a Typhoon, one of the planes flown during the D-Day invasion. Veterans who had flown or worked on the maintenance of the Typhoon were invited forward to see and touch the aircraft. It was very moving to see these old guys and gals, some requiring assistance, come forward. We owe them so much.

    I shed more than one tear yesterday, especially when they had a little girl of about 7 read the “Commitment to Remember”

    They were young, as we are young,
    They served, giving freely of themselves.
    To them, we pledge, amid the winds of time,
    To carry their torch and never forget.
    We will remember them.

  33. Doug R says:

    Thanks for posting this, Fr. Z. Another thing that I like to listen to is this, from Archive.org. It’s the complete 24-hour broadcast day of CBS News from the time the first news reports started trickling in. It has the news reports as they were coming in, the transcribed interviews from the men on their way over to drop (including the young man who knew his ‘chute was going to work, because his mother was the inspector on the line where it was packed), and even the bits and pieces of the soap operas and other programs that aired that day in between the news reports.


  34. frodo says:

    The second photo is wonderful.

    I wonder about the requirement of confession prior to mass in the sense of the violence of war (outside of the difficult questions of intent, just war, etc). Actually, I see having mass on that beach as purifying the area of the earlier horror. I was just asking about the theology of participating in mass right after a battle.

    Thank you and blessings to all those who fell.

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