June 6, 1944 – Flashes Through A Darkened Sky
June 6, 1944 – A day etched in stone in most history books – the turning point of World War 2. Whether you remembered it, have relatives, parents, grand-parents or great-grand-parents who were part of it, heard about it in school or saw any one of the vast number of movies or TV series or documentaries regarding this day, it has made some impression on you. It has come to define many things about America and Americans in general. And it has come to epitomize resolve and determination and our ability to recover from adverse situations.
And so each year – despite the fact that June 6th was a day a where lot of other things happened in history, it has come to symbolize a defining moment – and for all intents and purposes, will continue to symbolize that defining moment for many decades to come.
But to get a sense of the uncertainty of that day – how no one knew for sure if such an invasion would work, here is a 2-hour excerpt of that day – starting with the first bulletins as they were recieved on the East Coast. As the excerpts continue, progress had already been made, the Allies were pushing into France and the initial invasion was reported to be a success. The German Army was reported to be taken by surprise and was ill-prepared for such a massive invasion. Resistance was said to be light – although history after the fact has proven otherwise – the initial reports were upbeat and encouraging. But it wasn’t over yet. There was talk about a possible German counter-attack, and how this 13 mile advance onto French soil could be eradicated if the German Army got organized and mounted a counter-offensive.
At this point, there was no way of knowing – and that uncertainty is conveyed by the breathless reports, the dispatches and communiques from Allied Headquarters. It was an anxious day if you had a relative or loved one, of the many thousands who stormed the beaches up and down the French coast or who parachuted behind German lines.
A lot has been written and spoken about in retrospect – and that is always the safe place of history; to see it in the past tense, after it all worked out and after the wreckage has been cleared. But listening to these reports, to hear the news as it was unfolding and to be gripped by the sheer enormity and uncertainty of the moment, and to not know what was going to happen from one minute to the next, that is history as it was being made.
And you get to hear a small part of it, as it was happening – the minute it was happening, by way of the NBC Red Network continuous coverage of the events of June 6, 1944