It’s a rainy evening in Paris, just minutes before the hour, 75 years ago, that D-Day began. At midnight, RAF aircraft dropped hundreds of dummy paratroopers across Seine-Maritime, not far from here, as a distraction. Ten minutes later, the first pathfinders jumped over Normandy to mark drop zones for paratroopers and landing paths for gliders.
I find the things that move me personally lead me to my best writing, and this is a moment that has moved me for as long as I can remember. It inspired me to major in history in college, with a focus on 20th century wars. My reading about it lead me to the extraordinary efforts of Martha Gellhorn in covering the D-Day invasion — the only female journalist and one of the few journalists of any gender to go ashore in the first days. Her real story inspired the last two novels I have written: The Race for Paris, about a fictional woman journalist and photojournalist which draws from the real women journalists of the time; and Beautiful Exiles, about Martha herself.
I remain in awe of what Martha Gellhorn did to cover the invasion, and even more in awe of what the troops she covered did. I hope you’ll take a minute to honor them all in some way on this 75th anniversary of D-Day. I started by listening to Eisenhower’s words to the troops, below with photos from the day.