Sunday, June 8, 2014

Hollywood Goes to War: D Day Edition

Yesterday was the 70th Anniversary of D-Day (June 6, 1944). The day Allied forces began the Normandy invasion on Omaha Beach. Comet Over Hollywood wrote an interesting piece recognizing well known actors who stormed the beach that fateful day, and I was glad to know that a few of my favorite actors were real life heroes as well.

Having a family history of men in the military as well as my two brothers who have served/are serving in current Army positions, I have a deep respect for men and women whose choose to take on the responsibilities and heartache of war.

Here are three men, out of the thousands, that faced the "longest day" in history...

Sir Alec Guinness- Not yet bestowed upon with the title of "Sir", Guinness served in the British Royal Navy Reserve. He operated a British landing craft on D-Day. Guinness is best known by my generation as Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Star Wars films, but he was a well known British actor long before he signed on for a lightsaber. He didn't take his first on-screen role until 1946 but worked steadily for the next 50 years. Knowing that his bravery extended well beyond that of a Jedi, makes me love him all the more.

David Niven- This real life hero worked within the intelligence branch of the military and  served as Lt. Colonel of the British Commandos. He was then assigned to the U.S. First Infantry. This made him one of the first officers to touch ground on Omaha Beach. He was also one of the 25 British soldiers to be awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit Medal Watching Niven on screen, it's hard to believe such a gentle looking man could have been this incredibly courageous. I won't ever watch him in Bachelor Mother the same way again.

Robert Montgomery-  Already an established actor, Montgomery enlisted before the United States even entered World War II. He became a PT boat Lt. Commander and was part of the D-Day invasion serving on the USS Barton destroyer. Montgomery served 5 years active duty and was awarded a Bronze Star, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Ribbon, the European Theater Ribbon with two Battle Stars, and one Overseas Service Bar. Montgomery also accepted an unpaid position in the White House under President Eisenhower advising and coaching him on how to address television/radio audiences. He even had his own office in the White House. He is considered a pioneer in the field of media consulting. Talk about a well rounded gentleman...and just look at that grin... irresistible!

This guy is one of my all time favorite actors. He  wasn't built like Clark Gable or Errol Flynn, he didn't sing or dance, and most often people recognize his famous daughter before they remember him. (Elizabeth Montgomery starred as Samantha in the original TV show Bewitched). But for me, this guy is pure charisma. Finding out Montgomery's war record only made me love him more.

These actors were not only willing to give up fortune and fame but they were ready to sacrifice their lives on that beach 70 years ago in the pursuit of conquering unspeakable evil. The most important thing we can do now is remember... and say a word of "thanks" to every man and woman we see in uniform.

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