NOT everyone was moved by the stories recounted in recent...

salmagundi

June 16, 1994

NOT everyone was moved by the stories recounted in recent D-Day celebrations. Fred Barnes writes in The New Republic:

"A week before the 50th anniversary I thought I'd found a way to tell my daughter Grace about D-Day. I read her a passage from Ambrose's book ['D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II' by Stephen Ambrose] about Lt. Robert Mason Mathias of the 82nd Airborne. He was a devout Catholic who never swore, but was also the best boxer in his regiment. When one of his men faltered on a competitive training hike against other platoons, Mathias carried him the last three-quarters of a mile.

"On D-Day Mathias was about to parachute into Normandy, with his men to follow, when flak burst outside the plane and a piece of shrapnel tore through his chest. He was knocked off his feet, but he pulled himself up and back into the doorway. Mathias could have stepped aside, let his men jump and returned to England 'in time for a life-saving operation,' Ambrose writes. At this point I choked up, knowing what would come next. I couldn't go on for nearly a minute. 'Instead,' Ambrose writes, 'Mathias raised his right arm, called out, "Follow me!" and leaped into the night. A half-hour later he was found on the ground, still in his chute, dead. 'He was the first American officer killed by German fire on D-Day.' With that, I told my daughter I was sorry I'd lost it while reading about Mathias. Didn't matter, she said. She hadn't really been listening anyway."

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