Pointe du Hoc, Lee Haber, 11x14, oil.
Baby Boomers’ youth was shaped by two galvanizing events that were also polar extremes. We were the children of men and women molded by the last heroic war, World War II. Yet we came of age during the deeply cynical and anti-heroic years of Vietnam.
Last Friday was the 70th anniversary of VE-Day, which marked the end of World War II in Europe. Most of its soldiers have joined the long grey line marching silently into history. Their wives and sweethearts wait out their days in nursing homes.
Omaha Beach #2, Lee Haber, 11x14, oil.
For those of us whose fathers served in the war, this is a stunning realization. We remember our fathers as young men, reminiscing about their wartime experiences. To realize that the better part of a century has elapsed is astonishing.
Remnants, Omaha Beach, Lee Haber, 16x20, oil.
Earlier this year, painter Lee Haber visited France, including the beaches where Allied troops mounted the vast D-Day assault on the German Atlantic Wall defenses. Casualties were heavy on both sides: of 156,000 Allied troops, there were at least 10,000 casualties.
“I grew up during the war and realize the actions that very young men—boys, really—were compelled to do,” he told me. “I consider myself a bit of a World War II historian, and can hardly imagine the horror, the pain, the hurt.”
Omaha Beach, Normandy, Lee Haber, 12x16, oil.
I’m glad that Lee is painting what is there now, rather than trying to reconstruct the assault itself. Instead, the energy in his paintings is suppressed, lying within the sea and sky. In this work, time, like the tides, eventually washes away all human endeavors, worries, and losses.
You can visit Lee’s website here.