ATTENTION: This site was designed to be fully compliant with W3C standards. You are seeing this message because your browser does not adequately support Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Please upgrade your browser to anything released after the year 2002. For a more exhaustive discussion regarding this directive, please visit the Web Standards Project's Browser Upgrade Initiative Web site.
D-Day: Down to Earth—Return of the 507th

Film Trailer

About the Film

News & Events

Image Gallery




What were some of your strongest impressions from the Normandy trip?
David: You instinctively know right away if the story you are involved in is engaging by how much the raw experience of covering it impacts your own perceptions. The trip and the impressions it left with me certainly altered my view on veterans, the war, and this generation. A couple of those are shared below:

Perhaps one of my strongest impressions was a general sense of the reality of what these guys did. This notion really hits hard when you visit the Normandy American Cemetery at Colville-sur Mer, especially being there with living veterans. In the film, there is a veteran kneeling at one of the grave crosses. The shot was totally unexpected and I had to react quickly, fumbling a bit to reframe the shot as best I could from a distance. It felt a bit awkward to capture, like I was intruding, yet seemed so appropriate to the 507th story. At that moment, I was really struck with the reality of the war: This man is not acting; it's not in a movie, not in a book or video game; it's right here in front of me. Here is a veteran who still has feelings for a friend he lost 60 years ago. (To respect the wishes of the American Battlefield Monument Commission, we removed the name of the soldier on the grave from the film.) Later in the week, when it was appropriate, I asked this veteran to tell me about the experience. He said that the grave he knelt by was one of his buddies during training and a member of his mortar squad. They had been split up on the parachute drop and his buddy was killed on the second day of combat. He said kneeling there was just his way of saying he'd wished he'd been there for him. (The kneeling veteran is Bob Bearden.)

Another really strong impression was the sense that what these men did really altered world history and changed lives for generations. Marty, the historian in the film, makes a convincing statement to this effect. This is indeed one of the obvious themes of the film and is perhaps best evidenced in the closing shot of the French children playing at the memorial reception for the veterans. The French people in Normandy are incredibly appreciative to the veterans and after nearly every major event, they would have a reception in the nearest town meeting area to honor the guys. At the reception after the monument unveiling, some French kids were playing around outside, and I captured them goofing off and having fun. At one point, a little boy in the group ran off and in so doing ran past a family escorting a veteran and his wife from the reception hall. This shot, like the one in the cemetery, is not forced or scripted; it just happened. I don't think I fully recognized the significance of the symbolism of this shot until later. We decided to make it the principal closing shot of the film because of what it represents. (The veteran leaving the reception is Robert D. Rae, who passed away in 2003.)