June 6, 2009 [LINK / comment]

D-Day plus 65: Remember this

It was sixty five years ago today that the liberation of Europe to began, under the command of General Dwight David Eisenhower. An armada consisting of thousands of warplanes, naval ships, transport vessels, and landing craft ferried 150,000 Allied troops across the English Channel, where many of them faced instant death from German machine gunners. At Omaha beach, the troops of the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions almost didn't make it, and barely established a small beachhead by nightfall. For us Americans today, it is almost as hard for us to imagine the horrors of the invasion itself as it is to imagine the unified, clear moral purpose that our country had back then. Most D-Day veterans are close to 90 years old, and every year that passes there will be fewer and fewer of them left to share their painful but precious memories. We are accustomed to observing Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and many of us do so with great seriousness, but we should also remember the dates on which the crucial battles that shaped our world took place. In retrospect, the numerical superiority of the Allied forces make the outcome of World War II look inevitable. If not for the huge exertions and sacrifices made by all those soldiers crawling through the blood-stained sand, however, the peoples of Europe would have remained under totalitarian rule -- either fascist (under Hitler) or communist (under Stalin).

D-Day Memorial

The D-Day Memorial, in Bedford, Virginia. It suffered the highest proportion of combat fatalities of any town in America.