D-Day 75th anniversary.
Their courage and sacrifice merit infinite gratitude.
“You are about to embark on the great crusade. ... The eyes of the world are upon you. ... I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle.”
— Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
With these words of Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the greatest armada that the world will ever see was launched on June 6, 1944, along the Normandy coast of France.
Simply known as D-Day, the Allied air, land and sea assault of over 5,000 ships, 12,000 airplanes and 150,000 service men began the epic liberation of Western Europe from Adolph Hitler’s tyrannical Nazi regime at an enormous human cost of nearly 10,000 Allied casualties with more than 4,000 killed in action.
Seventy-five summers have passed since history and fate converged on that day at Normandy when young men, hardly more than boys, entered the surf to surge forward across 200 yards of open beach blanketed by enemy small arms fire and bracketed by enemy artillery.
Despite the presence of death all around them and the joys of life before them, they courageously and devotedly risked everything for humanity on the beaches of Normandy that day so that liberty would live and tyranny could die.
While the deadly price paid on the beaches of Normandy, the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc and the airborne drop zones will forever underscore the cost of war and its inhumanity, it also speaks to the human spirit of freedom-loving people who heroically choose to live free or die.
As the ranks of the young heroes of Normandy inevitably dwindle with each passing year, this year’s major commemorative milestone sadly signals a farewell salute to those who survived the “longest day” that changed the course of history.
Only 30 of the 73,000 Americans and all but three of the 177 French forces who took part in D-Day are scheduled to attend the official international ceremony on Juno Beach to receive a farewell salute.
The courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle of the young heroes of Normandy who died or survived that fateful day on Normandy’s coast must not be allowed to become a historical footnote, because it merits our infinite gratitude.
On this 75th anniversary of D-Day we, as a freedom-loving people, can express our infinite gratitude by continuing to tell their story that has been passed down through the years by word of mouth, history books and classic films like “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan.”
If the epochal D-Day battle that began the great crusade to liberate Western Europe from Nazi tyranny is to never be forgotten, the story of the young heroes of Normandy must forever be told.