Most Americans aren’t old enough to remember the great acts of heroism displayed on some French beaches 70 years ago, but that shouldn’t keep us from offering profound gratitude for the sacrifices made on our behalf on that seminal day known as D-Day.
On June 6, 1944, 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops crossed the English Channel and stormed the beaches of Normandy in an exercise directed by then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower.
Code named Operation Overlord, the success of the bold invasion is largely acknowledged to have turned the tide of World War II in favor of the Allies.
Even though it was a long time ago, we as a nation must never forget the courage and heroism exhibited during that horrific series of fierce battles and the sacrifices that were made during that war so that we can live in freedom.
All accounts of that day tell us that it was nothing short of hell, and it took a devastating toll.
Research by the U.S. National D-Day Memorial Foundation estimates that more than 4,400 Allied personnel -- about 2,500 Americans -- were killed during the battles surrounding the invasion. Thousands more suffered devastating injuries. Such is the grotesque tragedy of war.
A total of 73,000 American troops participated in the operation, which actually began pre-dawn with 15,500 airborne troops being dropped into France to secure roadways and create havoc so that the Germans could not properly react to the invasion once it started: 23,250 invaded Utah Beach, while 32,450 hit Omaha Beach.
Make no mistake, this was not a war of nebulous origin or questionable purpose. It was a war for world freedom.
This was a war against tyranny in which nearly everyone in this country sacrificed.
Our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers gave up their normal lives, no matter what their station in life, to ensure that we and our children can live free.
Many of their wives and girlfriends went to work making the armaments, vehicles and vessels vital to winning the war.
There are still those among us who do remember that time vividly and they tell us of an era when everyone in the nation did something. Even those who didn’t go into battle sacrificed in many ways. Such sacrifice wasn’t considered heroic -- it was the norm. One could fairly argue that never has the United States been so united as it was during World War II.
On this anniversary, it seems fitting for the nation to take a little time to offer grateful thanks for those who fought and sacrificed for us. To them and their families, we offer a sincere thank you.
~ Contra Costa Times