May 27, 2012
Memorial Day 2012: Remembering those who gave their all
Charles Durning is an actor you've seen in countless movies over the last 50 years, including The Sting, The Front Page, Dog Day Afternoon, Tootsie and The Muppet Movie; I especially enjoyed his performance as Gov. Pappy Daniels in O Brother, Where Art Thou?. But you've never seen him like this, speaking at the 2007 Memorial Day Concert. Durning is a decorated war veteran who fought his way across Europe, receiving numerous wounds in the fight against the Third Reich. Until recently, he remained silent about his wartime experiences, but, as the number of WWII vets dwindles, Durning decided to speak out, to bear witness to the heroism of those who never came home.
His portion of the video begins with a picture of him as a young GI at the 1:12 mark. Listen to his memories of D-Day, the raw emotion in his voice as he recalls the terror of those hours spent on the beaches of Normandy, and then think of how he and his fellow soldiers fought their way off the sand and continued on, mile after mile, month after month, through France and Belgium, the bitter cold of Bastogne, over the Rhine, until the enemy -- bled dry by the constant slaughter -- was defeated.
Durning came home and recovered from his wounds. Taking to the theater, the lean combat veteran soon disappearing into the role of corpulent character actor, often snagging comedic roles -- with a glimmer of barely-controlled rage occasionally peeking through, the twinkling eyes going cold and flat.
I'm grateful he's decided to end the decades-long silence about the war, and the heroes with whom be fought.
On this memorial day weekend, be sure to thank a veteran for his service, and make sure to tell him you remember his buddies, too, the ones who never made it home.
Posted by Mike Lief at May 27, 2012 09:15 AM
Charles Durning: earned a Silver Star + three Purple Hearts
A real Hero
Unlike John Kerry : SIW and overblown SITREPs
Posted by: Glenn j Campbell at May 27, 2012 08:53 PM