Today marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, a day in which the United States led an allied invasion force to what was undoubtedly the most meaningful victory for freedom and liberation in history. Our troops brought a shining light of hope to an extremely dark time in world history. The men who stormed the beaches seventy years ago knew that either on that day, or in the days to come, they may have to give their lives so others could live free.
The sacrifices our American troops made, battling on beaches codenamed Omaha and Utah, can never be forgotten. You cannot forget the airmen who for months softened up Northern France in preparation for the landings on D-Day. It is easy to say seventy years later that it was inevitable the allied forces would succeed. However, at the time, the question of whether or not we would succeed was in doubt. If our forces failed, the idea of individual freedom and representative government would still be an unheard-of phenomenon for much of the world. Those men who stormed the beaches did not know if they were going to succeed, but they knew full well that it needed to be done.
Thirty years ago today, President Ronald Reagan drove home the point in one of the most revered speeches of his presidency. He chose to speak at Pointe-du-Hoc, a place where Army Rangers scaled a 100 meter cliff in order to knock out heavy artillery which was raining down a wall of fire on Utah and Omaha beaches. During President Reagan’s speech, he delivered a quote, which encompasses the magnitude of what our allied troops accomplished on June 6, 1944:
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
President Reagan, a man who was of the greatest generation, understood full well the sacrifices those men made to protect our freedom.
It took great leaders to conceive and put into action the D-Day landings. One of those leaders, known for his inspiring words, was Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower: “You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you.” General Eisenhower understood the fight at hand and that those who wanted to be free were also the ones waging this battle. Eisenhower also wrote a statement in the event D-Day was to fail and said, “…My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available…If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
In a day-and-age when our leaders love to deflect and blame others for their bad decisions, it takes a real leader to own up to defeat. Thankfully, General Eisenhower never had to issue that statement, and our soldiers successfully hit those beaches to ultimately advance to Berlin and win the war.
Many of those who fought and survived seventy years ago are no longer with us, but what they did on the beaches of Normandy seventy years ago will remain for all of eternity. It was due to their bravery that freedom and liberty has, and will, prevail for future generations.
Today we remember all the heroes of D-Day–living and deceased. May God bless them all.