By Sean Graham
Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a day that is incredibly significant both in the military history of the Second World War and the collective memory of that conflict. The latter has been greatly influenced by the many depictions in film of the landings on the 6th of June 1944 – perhaps most famously Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998). And while the best of these representations in film have been informed by historical research and first-hand accounts, milestone anniversaries have a remarkable power of re-focusing discussions around those who were actually there.
Already this week, national and local media have been filled with stories of the veterans who are still with us. As many of them head to France for commemorative ceremonies, there has been a great acknowledgement that, just as happened with First World War veterans, there will come a time when first-hand accounts of the Second World War will no longer be possible. One of these larger projects is D-Day in 14 Stories, a new documentary film that, as the title suggests, looks at the war through 14 individual experiences/stories. In doing so, the film tells diverse stories while simultaneously creating an interwoven narrative.
In this episode of the History Slam, I talk with Jim Parks, a Second World War veteran featured in the film. We talk about his experience during D-Day, the sights and sounds of the war, and his feelings towards the Germans. We also discuss his memories of training, his time in London, and where he was on Victory in Europe Day.
D-Day in 14 Stories airs on History Channel multiple times on June 6 with a national airing on Global on Saturday June 8.
Sean Graham is the host/producer of the History Slam and a contributing editor with Activehistory.ca