In just a matter of only a few days, America will be commemorating the Seventieth Anniversary of Operation Overlord, more commonly known as D-Day.
When General Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the command to launch, he had no idea whether the Allied mission would truly be successful. So uncertain was he of the mission’s ultimate success, the general even prepared an apology, in which he took full responsibility for our defeat on D-Day.
But our men didn’t fail.
As a result of his meeting with a few of our troops the day before the Allied invasion, Eisenhower would later say, “The light of battle was in their eyes.”
As the first rays of dawn broke over the English Channel, the seas were littered with thousands of warships and troop transports.
America was finally bringing freedom to Europe.
When the ramps first dropped on the landing crafts, the German machine gun fire obliterated the bodies of the young, American lead troops. But more troops were coming. Many more!
There would be thousands of troops to follow those brave ones who fell, numbers that would eventually overwhelm the massive number of German troops, concrete bunkers, and heavy armaments of Hitler’s formidable Atlantic Wall.
The spray of machine gun fire filled the air. The cries of the wounded and dying could be heard along the seashore. Dying young men, while breathing their final breaths upon this earth, called out for their beloved mothers. Although surrounded by many others who met the same fate, each one of them died alone.
Hundreds of them died upon those beaches. The briny seas ran crimson on June Sixth, as the rising tides washed away the blood from the sandy beaches.
That evening, as the sun was setting over the blood-stained beaches of Normandy, over 9,000 Allied troops had been killed or wounded. Over 100,000 more had landed successfully and were starting their assault on Europe.
As they have always done in battle, American troops refused to back down from the guns and mortars of the enemy. And as they have always done, American troops willingly offered up their lives to bring liberty to the oppressed.
And that is what we remember on this Memorial Day, the ones who didn’t return from battle.
On Omaha Beach, or upon any other battlefield in which Americans have shed their final life’s blood, the light of battle was in their eyes, but the cry of liberty was also in their hearts.
The same could be said about every American who has ever offered up his life in the cause of liberty, brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in wartime in order that we might enjoy the blessings of freedom in peacetime.
On this day we thank you, all of you, you brave and selfless members of our Armed Forces!
Active or inactive, wartime or peacetime, living or dead, no matter what might be your service status, we all owe you more than we could ever hope to repay.
May God bless America and each of our veterans!
And on this special day, may someone take the time to remember each one of you individually.
You have earned it.
Image: Courtesy of: http://www.practicalpedal.com/photographcfo/Normandy-Band-of-Brothers-Tour.html