June 6th is one of the most important dates in the history not only of America but of the world. And this past June, the world stopped and recognized the seventieth anniversary of that day, also known as D-Day. In honor of that day, many networks across the television spectrum presented their own programs, recalling the events of the day in question. Few if any were as powerful as PBS’ Day of Days: June 6th, 1944—American Soldiers Remember D-Day. This program is one of the most moving and powerful that PBS has premiered so far this year. That is first and foremost because it is not just another documentary. It is a group of firsthand recollections from just some of the men who fought on the beaches of Normandy on June 6th, 1944. There are no animations. There are no actors. The only extras (if they are to be considered extras) are the collective snippets of the events from that day. They are another part of what makes the entire experience in this program so powerful. Of course, there is the “Beachhead to Berlin” newsreel. That bonus is the final touch on a presentation that everybody should see at least once if not more.
Day of Days: June 6th, 1944—American Soldiers Remember D-Day is one of the most powerful WWII-centered pieces that PBS has ever premiered. The central reason for that is the fact that it is anything but the steady stream of documentaries churned out by the various networks that handle such fare, PBS included. There are no actors, “experts,” no special animations, or any other embellishments. It is just a group of military veterans that were part of the Normandy invasion on June 6th, 1944. The men recount the horrors that happened on those beaches. Over the course of the program’s roughly hour –long run time. In hearing their painful recollections, audiences will see and hear firsthand just why those that have served choose to not talk about what they experienced. The tears that they shed as they recall the memories of those events are very real. And they will deeply move anyone taking them in regardless of whether they are everyday viewers or themselves military veterans.
As has already been noted, Day of Days: June 6th, 1944—American Soldiers Remember D-Day is such a powerful piece from PBS because it isn’t just another documentary. There are no “experts.” There are no animations, re-enactments or any other embellishments. The only “extra” of sorts that was partnered with the stories told by the veterans is a collection of actual footage shot as the Normandy invasion took place. The footage itself is difficult to watch in its own right. That is because audiences will actually see men being shot and falling, lifeless as they make their way onto the beach. Again, this is not acting. It is actual footage of those events. There is footage of the firefight that took place from the sea off the French coast and much more. That collection of footage partnered with the veterans’ stories make this program all the more powerful and memorable. It isn’t all that make the program memorable and powerful, either.
The vintage footage that accompanies the veterans’ recollections and the recollections themselves are both of the utmost importance to the presentation in whole. Just as important to the overall presentation is the bonus newsreel “Beachhead to Berlin.” This is an actual newsreel used to bolster patriotism among Americans in the days following the Normandy invasion. The newsreel uses much of the footage that is incorporated into the veterans recollections in the main feature. There is also footage not used in the main feature. The collective footage set against the voice over of a military officer writing a letter to the parent of a fallen soldier makes the newsreel truly powerful. It is later revealed that the officer writing the letter was himself a veteran and had received a purple heart for serving in the war. That final statement is the perfect closing moment for the newsreel. And together with the final thoughts of the veterans in the main feature, it becomes even harder hitting as a final moment for the entire presentation.
The primary feature presented in Day of Days: June 6th, 1944—American Soldiers Remember D-Day is by itself a program unlike anything that PBS has presented so far this year. The bonus newsreel that accompanies that feature is in itself just as moving. Both features together prove this program to be one that viewers of all backgrounds will appreciate, whether they be military or not. They prove the program to be one that everyone should see at least once if not more. It is available now and can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35620366&cp=&sr=1&kw=day+of+days&origkw=Day+of+Days&parentPage=search. More information on this and other releases from PBS is available online at http://www.pbs.org and http://www.facebook.com/pbs. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.