Today marks the 68th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied landing at Normandy. 160,000 men poured onto fifty miles of heavily fortified beach. 4,000 of them died under Nazi guns in a single day. Many of the fallen were not even twenty years old yet. Geologists are still pulling tiny bits of shrapnel from the sand.
We are justly proud of modern military leaders, and their ability to avoid ???meat grinders??? though superior intelligence, mobility, and precision. We have learned much about the arts of war??? and the heroes of Normandy were among our greatest teachers. They faced an entrenched, determined, skillful enemy, armed with equal technology. They knew what had to be done, and they were the ones who had to do it. They marched through a meat grinder, because it was the only way to break into the chamber of horrors beyond. Courageous men tore apart the history books, and wrote better ones. We are here today because they were there in 1944.
Death was everywhere on that beach, walking through hot metal and roaring flames to lay his hand upon one shoulder after another. Rarely have terror and glory mixed so freely, to paint the world such a deep shade of red. Freedom roared with deafening volume, leaving echoes that will be heard as long as free men and women have the wit to remember the price that was paid for their dignity.
In recent years, we developed the cinematic techniques to reproduce the sights and sounds of D-Day with some accuracy??? but nothing could ever approach the memory of those who raced across that beach. We who stand in debt to the troops that took Normandy will not have many more anniversaries to render proper respects to the survivors of that terrible battle. Their brothers call them to muster, and all too soon, the last of them will answer.
Let the tyrants of the world shiver on this day, and remember that every darkness can be lifted. Every prison, torture chamber, and abattoir has walls which can be broken. Every night ends, and every dawn breaking over the dominion of evil may bring another Day of Days.
Let the defenders of freedom remember that deep shadows are not carelessly thrown aside, and even when courage is the only answer to cruelty, it is not easy to give.
It???s a shame we never got around to having the war to end all wars, because D-Day would have made a good final chapter for the dreadful history of human conflict. We soldier on, and are blessed with champions who would not have hesitated to take that beach with their grandfathers, or fling themselves from airplanes into the curtain of exploding shells above it. May every generation yet to come receive that same blessing.