On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s troops.
The youngest of these brave men are now at least 87 years old. Every year in the month of November I have the privilege of being able to spend about 24 hours in the presence of such men. They are from all walks of life and they have so many different stories to tell. When they see the WWII Memorial in Washington DC for the first time it is a moment to remember.
160,000 allied troops landed in one spot, on the beach and much like the front lines of the British in the revolutionary war, when one went down on the front the next guy stepped in his place. They just kept going, stepping over their fallen comrades to begin the march to defeat the Nazis. They knew so many of them would never make it off that beach alive. They knew it ahead of time, yet they did it, as young as they were, sacrificing themselves for the freedoms we still have today. I read somewhere recently that Eisenhower was terrified of the decision he made, he couldn't hold his cup of coffee and even debated it until the morning of June 6, 1944. He saw no other way. He knew the casualties would be high but he also knew that this was the weak spot and it was necessary to go in with the unbelievable show of force and will needed to gain an advantage with a foothold in Europe.
God bless them and every soldier that defends the freedoms we have in this great country.
They are truly the greatest generation.