Oscar award-winning narrator and World War II veteran Peter Thomas volunteered into the United States Army in 1943 and served with the First Infantry Division in five major campaigns, including the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. He was issued a Battle star for each of the five campaigns. He was also awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Unit French Croix de guerre, the Belgian Fourragère, and the French Legion of Honor.
Click here to hear Peter Thomas narrating his poem, Omaha Beach, accompanied by the Naples Philharmonic.
By Peter A. Thomas
When we went in, the beach had been taken
The living fought on, the dead forsaken
We were dropped into water up to our shoulders
We waded in – a group of green soldiers
Onto that thin strip of beach
So many had tried to reach.
They were the ones who went in first
Among the machine gun fire and shell burst
They went to watery graves
Sinking under the waves
The water was red
Red from the dead
Red from the dying
In agony crying
Those who made the land
Were not able to stand
They fell on the sand
Writhing in pain
Screaming for help in vain.
Every advantage was on the hill
They murdered our men at will
The rain of death from the cliffs never stopped
But we just kept coming in from the sea
Wave after wave, as far as you could see
Sheer courage and determination
Not believing they were done
Dictated the victory that day.
Others in the future will say
When they stand on that mighty height
And look down on that thin strip of beach
They’ll say, “I don’t see how they ever did it.”
They fought for every inch of it
Up the sides of that fortified wall
Over the tops of those cliffs so tall.
I’ll never forget that beach
I’ll never forget the men
In the ships
In the air and on the land
And those who died on the sand
And in the water.
They lie now beneath thousands of white crosses
And Stars of David
Above the beach
Those wonderful soldiers who died so young
They died so we
Could be free
How can we ever forget what they did
We honor them this day
We salute them
And we humbly beseech
Dear God, bless the men who died on
The D-Day 70th Anniversary Commemoration is jointly co-hosted by Friends of the National World War II Memorial and the National Park Service.