Seventy years ago today, the greatest invasion in the history of the world took place to remove and destroy the most heinous military and cultural evil of the last thousand years. The statistics are mindboggling and almost irrelevant. Most ships, most men, most tanks and trucks, most landing craft, most parachute drops, the lists go on and on. It is a testament to logistics as well as courage and bravery.
I have a close friend who is walking the beach in Normandy today with his father. Steve is there because his father fought his way across that immense beach, up the dune, and into France and lived. He lived to tell his story and now can represent the tens of thousands who also attacked that beach and over the next nine months died battling Hitler’s war against civilization and humanity.
My wife and I have been to Normandy and the cemetery that keeps and honors those dead soldiers. In my whole life I have never been as moved to tears as that grey morning walking among the headstones. Standing on the bluff overlooking the English Channel and then down to the beach, a soul is easily troubled by what can be imagined: an impossibly wide beach, bracketing cliffs, concrete bunkers and gun emplacements, tank traps thrown on the sand like giant jacks, and if in the second or third waves, your dead comrades. We can only imagine what an eighteen-year old kid from Minnesota thought as he looked over the gunnel of his landing craft at a French beach exploding in hell’s fire and smoke.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is a treasure for the American people and a quiet testimony of our strength and promise to the world. I ask that every American, if given the opportunity, take a day and visit this memorial. While somber it is also uplifting to realize what sacrifices our soldiers will give to ensure a peaceful and just world.
The world must never forget June 6, 1944.