Posted By RichC on September 12, 2005
The Boys of Point du Hoc, by Douglas Brinkley has masterfully honored Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder and his 225 U.S. Army Rangers for their June 6, 1944 D-Day climb and the man who honored them 40 years later. Their undertaking is beyond thinking as they scaled the 100 foot cliffs while the enemy sprayed them with bullets, cut their ropes and toss grenades down on them.
With thousands of other Allied troops pouring onto the French coast, the success of this vast D-Day invasion hinged largely on the Rangers’ mission. Their mission was to climb the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc and destroy six powerful artillery guns that threatened to rain death on troops as they laned on Omaha beach. According to D-Day planners, “those guns posed a major threat to the invasion. They had to be destroyed.” Quoted 20 years later to historian and journalist Walter Cronkite, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led the D-Day assault describe the Rangers mission as “pretty much a miracle.”
James Rudder who died in 1970 was not around to see the accolades 40 years later, but some of his men were. They return to the cliffs of France with many other D-Day soldiers and their families. Rudder’s story, and those of his brave men have been told many times, but Douglas Brinkley (Historian, noted Author, Tulane History Professor was displaced by Hurricane Katrina although he and his family are safe) has in my opinion made the story even better. Brinkley’s reflection on both the history of the Rangers, the training of the fearless men, the nearly impossible invasion and finally the honor due during the moving 1984 Ronald Reagan speeches is done extrodinarily well. (click for mp3 audio of Reagan’s 40th Anniversary speeches – 4.8 MB) I believe that although Tom Brokaw coined “The Greatest Generation,” Ronald Reagan was the amalgamation. Through his life and presidency we were able to better understand what patriotism and love of country is. There was no better spokesman for that Great Generation.
If you enjoy history and the amazing heros that keep our country great, you’ll enjoy this book. For a ‘shot’ of patriotism and what Americans have done to preserve our way of life, this is the ticket. What they died for then, is the freedom we (and much of Europe) enjoys today, lest we forget. They were amazing men giving their lives to free the millions in Europe from tyranny … and our troops are doing the same thing today. They are also American heros. Perhaps its not a perfect comparison, but Americans have and are still freeing people from oppression and tyrants before those threats reach our shores. Some would say ‘December 7th and 9/11’ were similar wake up calls.