July 4, 1776. December 7, 1941. September 11, 2001. These dates that were seared into hearts and minds of the collective American consciousness now seem — to some — distant, faded, even unimportant. But those who care to learn from history will always remember them, and teach their children.
There remains one other date in American — no, world history — that signifies good over evil, freedom over tyranny, liberty over oppression. That date is June 6, 1944. For as long as the world shall exist, June 6, 1944 will be forever known as D-Day.
As you read this, 65 years ago almost to the exact day, tens of thousands of scared young American soldiers were crammed together on landing craft in the English Channel heading for the beaches of Normandy, France. Their mission: save the world. Though they surely didn’t know it, these young men in all those landing craft would be forever known in American history as the Greatest Generation.
Just prior to the invasion that would ultimately liberate Europe and save civilization from the dark evil of Nazism, General Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, transmitted a message to the young men who would fight and die in the coming hours. It read in part: You are about to embark upon the 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.
As their landing craft pitched in the waves of the English Channel, in front of them on the high ground above the beaches known as Sword, Utah, Juno, Gold and Omaha was the Nazi war machine. Omaha beach was the most heavily fortified by Hitler’s war machine, and Omaha beach was the objective of the American military.
As the landing craft full of the Greatest Generation warriors came closer to Omaha beach, the Nazis aimed their machineguns, artillery, rifles and mortars at the landing craft full of 19, 20, and 21-year-old young American infantry soldiers. As the gates of the landing crafts fell, the Nazis unleashed Hell upon the Greatest Generation. In mere minutes, hundreds had been killed or wounded. By day’s end the American military would suffer 5,000 casualties on Omaha beach, all in the name of freedom. Know it.
The American dead and wounded on Omaha beach was so severe that American commanders considered abandoning the beach. But what our commanders had not counted on was the tenacity and fighting spirit of the Greatest Generation. Just as the firemen on 9/11 kept rushing up the stairs of the burning Twin Towers into the hands of God, the landing craft full of American infantry kept coming.
Under withering Nazi machine gun fire, the Greatest Generation slowly inched forward silencing the Nazi war machine on the bluffs above Omaha beach. By the end of June 6, Omaha beach would be largely secured. In less than a year the Nazi war machine would be crushed, Hitler dead.
Those young Americans who stormed Omaha beach on that morning 65 years ago on June 6th accomplished their mission: they saved the world.
June 6 is D-Day. Do not ever forget this day. Teach your children, make sure no one forgets how good wins over evil and the price that is paid. God bless the warriors.