Umm… So That Happened in France

I just don’t think a D-Day commemoration needed an interpretive dance of the landings.

Maybe I’m out in left field on this, but I’m thinking Patton and Eisenhower would have had someone shot if they’d seen this.

105 replies
  1. 1
    Onkel Fritze says:

    Pretty much my thoughts when I saw that.

  2. 2
    NCSteve says:

    Ike would have smiled politely and later launched some byzantine plot to punish the organizer without his fingerprints appearing on it. Patton would have pulled out his pistols shot them down where they danced.

  3. 3
    beltane says:

    I don’t know. It’s a testament to the ultimate success of the allied war effort that a great battle is being celebrated by a rather silly interpretive dance routine rather than a Riefenstahl-esque extravaganza.

  4. 4
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Um, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

  5. 5
    dmsilev says:

    Apparently, if NewsMax is to be believed, Obama was chewing gum and this is the newest Worst Thing Ever. Until tomorrow (or possibly later this evening), when a new Worst Thing Ever is discovered.

  6. 6
    scav says:

    Because the important thing about giving France, not to mention the rest of Europe and all civilians their freedom is that they recognize that it’s the freedom to immediately hop-to and give the stereotypical American Serviceman what he and only he feels is most appropriate.

    old guys there seemed happy enough.

  7. 7
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    old guys there seemed happy enough.

    They were daydreaming about oatmeal.

  8. 8
    Baud says:

    I would have gone with a laser light show and fireworks, set to Wagner of course.

  9. 9
    The Other Chuck says:

    @scav: And they call us liberals humorless scolds, can’t imagine why.

  10. 10
    rita forsyth says:

    it has become fashionable to be stupid, have no taste, and immune to any true artistic endeavor. Quality overall is on a downward trend apparently everywhere. Fortunately the Republican Party won’t have an opinion of the dance!

  11. 11
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Interpretive dance makes as much sense in the end as anything that happens in war.

  12. 12
    scav says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: few of them looked downright giddy at the thought. what have they been feeding the poor old guys?

  13. 13
    rita forsyth says:

    it has become fashionable to be stupid, have no taste, and immune to any true artistic endeavor. Quality overall is on a downward trend apparently everywhere. Fortunately the Republican Party won’t have an opinion of the dance!@dmsilev:

  14. 14
    scav says:

    doop cleanup.

  15. 15
    chopper says:

    I just don’t think a D-Day commemoration needed an interpretive dance of the landings.

    i think everything benefits from an interpretive dance.

  16. 16
    chopper says:

    @rita forsyth:

    you don’t say?

  17. 17
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @rita forsyth:

    What’s become fashionable? You’re not getting through.
    De gustibus non est disputandum

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    People are affected by things differently. Perhaps this dance was really meaningful to some people and illustrated what happened better than reading a bunch of dusty books or watching period film.

    Gorgeous day. Hollande looks perpetually nervous. Is that Prince Philip behind him? I guess he probably remembers D-Day. From this article:

    Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is the only living head of state who served in World War II, working as a mechanic and military truck driver in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service.

    Love the Queen.

  19. 19
    Soonergrunt says:

    Of course that happened, because why not?

    On a different note, the CIA now has a Twitter account, just opened today.
    It has one tweet so far:
    “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.”

  20. 20
    Felonius Monk says:

    @rita forsyth: Are you finished?

  21. 21
    beltane says:

    Rita Forsyth is scaring me.

  22. 22
    Baud says:

    There was a real risk of mimes here. I think we should all be grateful.

  23. 23
    Keith G says:

    Maybe I’m out in left field on this, but I’m thinking Patton and Eisenhower would have had someone shot if they’d seen this.

    Well Patton might have slapped a dancer (tho I suspect he was a bit of a Gallophile) , but please remember that Ike was the consummate warrior-politician so he would have smiled and clapped as appropriate no matter what his feelings might have been.

  24. 24
    scav says:

    @The Other Chuck: because snide remarks about interpretive dance are the pinky out height of all-american civility? pardonnez-moi.

    There was a bit where the oddly frozen jitterbug crowd celebrating across the map of Europe was backed by graphic images of emaciated corpses being bulldozed into mass graves and then either Hiroshima or Nagasaki and the whole frozen oddness shifted moods as they shifted to watch the scenes. granted, wasn’t a quick nippleflash at the star-spangled.

  25. 25
    shelley says:

    Woah. Cue Dieter from ‘Sprockets.’

  26. 26
    dmsilev says:

    @Baud: The mimesweepers went in with the first wave of troops.

  27. 27
    Suffern ACE says:

    Patton would not have shot them. He would have requested encore after encore, interrupting with better ideas, drilling them until they regretted ever thinking up the idea.

  28. 28
    Baud says:


    Now’s the time of the invasion when we dance.

  29. 29
    Peter VE says:

    I flashed back to Sadat reviewing the Egyptian Army’s version of interpretive dance…

  30. 30
    max says:

    @chopper: i think everything benefits from an interpretive dance.

    It would improve Sarah Palin’s uh, emissions considerably.

    [‘Come to think of it, I think we should drop the D-Day interpretive dances and demand that Politico go all-interpretative dance all the time.’]

  31. 31
    beltane says:

    @scav: The war is remembered very differently in the USA than in Europe, and it may be hard to reconcile the two experiences for an event like this. Unlike virtually all previous warst, most of those killed in WWII were civilians, and a foam finger “Rah, rah, we’re number one!” just doesn’t convey the horror endured by the civilian population.

  32. 32
    max says:

    @Suffern ACE: Patton would not have shot them. He would have requested encore after encore, interrupting with better ideas, drilling them until they regretted ever thinking up the idea.

    Although I am sure he would have also demanded they wear fezs, and lots of ridiculous feathers and exceedingly gaudy uniforms.

    [‘And then maybe he would have demanded they play a game of football *while* interpretive dancing.’]

  33. 33
    jheartney says:

    @Suffern ACE: Patton loved pageantry, so long as it was militaristic (marching and drilling troops were teh shit). Haven’t had the heart to actually run the interpretive dance video, so it’s hard to say what he’d have made of it.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    Since we’re wearing on towards the part of the day when people need some comic relief, I bring you the greatest home front film of all time: The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek.

  35. 35
    beltane says:

    The D-Day commemorations have reminded me to read Ian Buruma’s Year Zero: A History of 1945

  36. 36
    jl says:

    How is it Obama’s fault? That is all that matters.

    No, or maybe HRC? Who is the Dem villain in this?

  37. 37
    ralphb says:

    @Soonergrunt: I can neither confirm nor deny that I had previously seen that tweet,

  38. 38
    Schlemizel says:

    @Keith G:
    I read Pattons diary from WWII and he didn’t express any love for the French. In fact there is a hilarious thread running through the book. When they land in North Africa he complains about how smelly, slovenly and stupid the North Africans are. When they get to Sicily he says they are even worse than the North Africans. When in Italy he complains that the Italians are even dumber and smellier than the Sicilians. When he gets to France (you can see this coming, right?) He says, “As bad as I thought the Italians were the French are worse.”

    Yeah, he was a sweetheart.

  39. 39
    LanceThruster says:

    “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
    Love like you’ll never be hurt,
    Sing like there’s nobody listening,
    And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

    ― William W. Purkey

  40. 40
    scav says:

    @beltane: That’s why I’m willing to let the French organize their own remembrance. The village-based Armistice parades I’ve attended were quite different (Languedoc, but close enough to the Pyrenees for some realio Resistance fighters, so here’s a quick remembrance of M. Felix).

  41. 41
    jl says:

    Looked at it.

    Looks like Frenchy stuff to me. They do that stuff. You’re in France, better be prepared for Frenchy stuff.

    If it were in England there would be a bunch of people marching around in shiny old school helmets with feathers and crap sticking out them, with band music.

    That Frenchy type dance stuff works better at the Olympics.

  42. 42
    LanceThruster says:

    “If I can’t dance – I don’t want to be part of your revolution”

    ~ Emma Goldman

  43. 43
    MikeInSewickley says:

    What’s next?

    “Muppets on Utah Beach”?
    “Elmo Takes Saint Lo”?
    “Pikachu Through the Siegfried Line”?

    History is so… yesterday.

  44. 44
    piratedan says:

    at this point in the commentary, shouldn’t there be a pause, a Gallic shrug and some camera panning that moves the shot to a distant horizon and La Marseillaise begin to sound?

  45. 45
    Baud says:


    We can dance if we want to
    We can leave your friends behind
    ‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
    Well, they’re no friends of mine

    — Men at Work

  46. 46
    Anoniminous says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Um, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

    SitRep: Charlie Fox, out.

  47. 47
    LanceThruster says:

    That being said, this is more my taste.

  48. 48
    LanceThruster says:



  49. 49
    piratedan says:

    @Baud: actually that’s Men in Hats, not Men at Work….

  50. 50
    beltane says:

    @piratedan: Not to be a pedant, but that song was by Men Without Hats.

  51. 51
    Anoniminous says:


    I’m sure some of those old guys remember how to use Mime Field detectors.

    Darn you dmsilev! Darn you to heck!

  52. 52
    piratedan says:

    @beltane: ty beltane, got it before I could edit it :-)

  53. 53
    LanceThruster says:

    To be fair, look what they were up against.

  54. 54
    LanceThruster says:

    And this.

  55. 55
    scav says:

    @piratedan: Depends. Have all the heroes been rewritten as Americans as in U-571 and The Great Escape? Gotta please box-office.

  56. 56
    SFAW says:

    THAT’S the dms I knew and loved. Where you been, man?

    ETA: “Loved” in a manly not at all un-Christian way, that is. (h/t General JC Christian)

  57. 57
    Baud says:


    Hmm. Google comes up with both Men Without Hats and Men at Work.

    I is confuzed.

  58. 58
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Love the Queen.

    I do too! Did you see the photo of President Obama and the Governor General of New Zealand solicitously (but not patronizingly) assisting her as she walked down a few steps? What was hilarious was seeing Putin a few feet away, hands stiffly at his side, carefully avoiding eye contact with everyone (and goodness knows, not lifting a finger to show a basic courtesy to an 88-year-old woman).

  59. 59
    SFAW says:

    Men Ohne Schatten.

    I mean: Without Hats.

  60. 60
    Suffern ACE says:

    @max: I wonder if he would have saved those uniforms to commemorate a battle he actually took part in. He might just allow the interpretive dance at Normandy, while making sure that the invasion of Austria was a bigger showcase each year.

  61. 61
    piratedan says:

    @Baud: that is strange, perhaps the aussies did a cover version but iirc pretty sure the lads sans chapeaus did it first with that surreal video using that traveling performers troupe theme.

  62. 62
    LanceThruster says:


    Turns out that was done with “The Victors.”

  63. 63
  64. 64
    Baud says:


    And there names are fairly similar. It’s like when the changed Darrens on Bewitched.

  65. 65
    Ash Can says:

    I have a feeling that if you had told all those old guys back when they were doing their thing in Normandy 70 years ago that one day they’d be watching nothing more horrific than an interpretive dance act on that same shore, they’d all have declared themselves number-one fans of interpretive dance, on the spot.

  66. 66
    LanceThruster says:

    The Krauts could belt out a tune as well.

    And in Lego, no less!

  67. 67
    Cacti says:

    They can dance if they want to.

    They can leave their friends behind.

    Because their friends don’t dance, and if they don’t dance then they’re no friends of mine.


  68. 68
    beltane says:

    @Ash Can: Yep. Interpretive dance=Peace.

  69. 69
  70. 70
    SFAW says:


    The Krauts could belt out a tune as well.

    It had a good beat, and they could dance (so to speak) to it.

    Dick, I give it an 87!

  71. 71
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @dmsilev: Thankfully I have adblock through Chrome so I cannot see NewsMax ads anymore. Hallelu!

  72. 72
    LanceThruster says:

    Some things are timeless.

  73. 73
    scav says:

    @LanceThruster: Oh golly, another one? At least the UK can’t blame that one on anyone but themselves. Ending sounds a bit like that movie I saw about Serbia (?) where they end with people stabbing each other with forks in the hospital. Pretty Village Pretty Flame? I saw a few intense ones right after one another, might have added a few nightmares into the mix.

  74. 74
    PurpleGirl says:

    Considering the range of people who were being honored — military and civilians, foreigners and locals — if the French wanted an interpretative dance, then that’s okay by me. I just ask that it not be too long.

  75. 75
    LanceThruster says:


    Seeing it as a kid, the shooting of Peter Fonda’s stray dog traumatized me.

  76. 76
    ralphb says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Thankfully I have adblock through Chrome so I cannot see NewsMax ads anymore. Hallelu!

    Ghostery is a great browser add-on that lets you block ads, tracking cookies etc. I’m using it and have blocked 7 cookies on this site including google analytics, newsmax etc. You can block them individually or just block them all. Works great with Chrome or Firefox.

    damn it, that’s a commercial and I’m not getting paid. oh, well.

  77. 77
    JW says:

    I agree, John.

  78. 78
    D58826 says:

    Seems a British WWII vet went MIA from his nursing home. They found him in Normandy for the anniversary

  79. 79
    MikeJ says:

    Dancing is a hell of a lot less creepy than forcing children to say a loyalty oath at the start of each schoolday.

  80. 80
    MomSense says:

    Well I thought the interpretive dance was very French and especially the part showing the DDay invasion was quite moving.

    My Stepdad was a concert pianist and Patton liked to hear him play. He knew all the popular songs and many classical pieces. My Stepdad had some really cool photos of him sitting next to his piano while he played. Eisenhower liked mostly sort of country (in the folk sense), hymns and some easy classical. Apparently he did love The Student Prince which has some gorgeous melodies. While the moon is beaming is a beautiful song.

    I guess the point is that Generals are exposed to a lot of culture. I wouldn’t assume that they were unsophisticated in terms of arts appreciation.

  81. 81
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I saw that earlier. What a great story! Loved it!!

  82. 82
    Anoniminous says:

    One of the stranger stories of D-Day is Yang Kyoungjong. A Korean who was drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army. Captured by the Red Army and was given the choice: die or join the Red Army. Fought with the Red Army. Was captured by the German Army and given the same choice. Wound up in Normandy and was taken POW by US paratroopers.

  83. 83
    Baud says:


    Please tell me that ends with him fighting for the U.S. in Korea, and then getting captured and returning home.

  84. 84
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    While the moon is beaming is a beautiful song.

    It is. And I confess to a great affection for the famous “Drinking Song” (“Kathy! More beer!”)
    In fact, saying this will mark me as a hopeless mushy romantic, but there was some terrific stuff by Romberg, Friml, and their counterparts. Very popular in its day but almost forgotten now, which is a shame.

    (I also like Victorian salon music. efgoldman, do your worst!)

  85. 85
    D58826 says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: another one – a vet approached Obama and took his hand and talked with him for a couple of minutes. The reporter found the man and –

    When the ceremony was over, I made my way through the arrays of marble crosses to the stage and to the man in the blue hat who had taken Obama’s hand.

    His name, it turns out, is Irving Smolens, and he was only 19 when he took part in the Normandy landing. Afterward he spent much of his life as a buyer of women’s and children’s clothing in Massachusetts, leading a quiet, peaceful life with his family.

    “What did you say to Obama?” I asked him.

    “I thanked him for keeping us out of war,” said Smolens.

  86. 86
    jl says:

    @Anoniminous: When in Baltics I met a couple of very oldsters who had the same kind of story. I guess the cultural differences were much less in their cases. They lucked out in that no matter what the manner of their trajectories (Nazi to Soviet, or Soviet to Nazi), they ended up as Allied Forces. POWs, so got medical treatment and post-war help, rather than death to lack of resources, neglect or execution, or prolonged prison camp or impoverished exile existence.

  87. 87
    Anoniminous says:


    Alas, no.

    He was held in a POW camp in the UK and after release emigrated to the US, living in Illinois for the rest of his life.

  88. 88
    Anoniminous says:


    I hadn’t heard of that, thanks.

    I’m not surprised. By 1943 the Red Army and German Army needed warm bodies after the slaughter of the previous three years and weren’t too particular from whence they came.

  89. 89
    James E. Powell says:


    “I thanked [President Obama] for keeping us out of war,” said Smolens.

    Obviously a commie sleeper agent.

  90. 90
    Baud says:


    So close.

  91. 91
    MomSense says:


    I love all of it! My grandmother was also a pianist and she was born in 1898 so I grew up listening to all of the popular music from her day. She did love The Student Prince One of my favorites songs when I was a little girl was You’ll never know

  92. 92
    LanceThruster says:

    This is pretty awesome —

  93. 93
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I watched the ceremonies live this morning, and saw the veteran who was having an intense conversation with POTUS — to the point where he had to pull himself away so he could lay a wreath alongside M. le président Hollande. “I gotta go for a minute. But I’ll be back. I promise, I’ll be back.” And you know what? He was. A few minutes later, he (POTUS) was stopping to shake the hand of every veteran present, and chat with each of them briefly, and yes, he did stop and resume his conversation. I think it must be the same guy.

  94. 94
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    First, it looked like the old bastards liked it, and it was for them, wasn’t it? Second, simply because Cole is a philistine, it doesn’t mean every soldier must be one as well. I mean, come on, all those poets from WWI. Wellington played the violin. Napoleon collected art on a large scale. I liked it.

    ETA: And if you didn’t notice a little dust or something in your eyes – no, they are not tears – don’t be silly – when the youngsters were walking the old vets out, there is something decidedly wrong with you.

  95. 95
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    Interpretive dance makes as much sense in the end as anything that happens in war.

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: I was going to pop in and make some snide comment, but then I read that and decided it was perfect and nothing else needed to be said.

  96. 96
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    My grandmother was born in 1892. She wasn’t much of a musician herself (although I think she could have been with the proper encouragement and training), but she had a whole repertoire of parlour songs that I learned at her knee and have always loved.

    One that I’ve tried valiantly for many years to track down is called (I think) The Roses That Bloom on My Wall. I hope I can find the sheet music, or even just the words, before I die. I remember the tune, but all I recall of the words is the refrain, which goes something like this (not swearing to word-for-word accuracy):

    “Then sing me a song of the Rose,
    A Rose that is tender and true,
    She wears a red robe like the daintiest queen,
    All gleaming with jewels of dew.”

    I mention it on the very remote chance that it was part of your own grandmother’s repertoire.

  97. 97
    Heliopause says:

    I just don’t think a D-Day commemoration needed an interpretive dance of the landings.

    I don’t see how that’s any worse than any of the memorials, the stuffed-suit opportunist politicians, or the thousands of hunks of granite aligned in perfect little rows. The human species is very stupid about this sort of thing. If we put a quarter of this amount of effort into the problems of the living we would have solved all of society’s ills by now.

  98. 98
    MomSense says:


    Yes, I do remember that song. I don’t remember what it is from but I think that it is from a book of verses that was set to music. I’m going to ask my Mom if she has the sheet music–or if she can play it.

  99. 99
    KS in MA says:

    @LanceThruster: Always awesome.

  100. 100
    MomSense says:


    Is it Song of the Rose?

    No beautiful palace have I on the hill,
    No pictures to hang on my walls,
    But never a painter could match with his skill,
    The roses that bloom in my hall

  101. 101
    Steeplejack says:


    It appears to be “A Song of the Roses,” first published in Our Young Folks magazine in 1867, by lyricist Emily Miller and composer J.R. Thomas.

    It’s discussed in this dissertation by Mary Elaine Yontz. A snippet of the lyrics appears in The Overland Monthly in 1892.

    I can’t find an audio version, but I’ll do some more hunting.

  102. 102
    jame says:

    FWIW: An 84 year old man told me that he watched the dance with tears in his eyes because it was so well done and every element of D-Day was so recognizable to him.

  103. 103
    Steeplejack says:

    @SiubhanDuinne, @Steeplejack:

    I found the sheet music! As originally published in the magazine in 1867. You should be able to do a screen-print of the three pages from this. (Go to one-page view first.)

    This may be a career-high Google-fu achievement for me, so I am a little giddy. Also spent. Very spent. If this turns out to be the song you are seeking, I will ask you to buy me a drink at some future meet-up.

  104. 104
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    I feel that I should point out that soldiers were the minority of people who experienced D-Day there. There’s also all the people that lived there. If they want to do dance, I don’t really see the problem.

    My maternal grandfather did the low countries. My paternal grandfather was killed in Italy. My grandmother remarried to the man I knew, Bill Hay. He was shot down over Germany and spent his war in a POW camp.

  105. 105
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    O! M! G! That’s it!! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!

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