Sixty-five years ago today, the US, Britain, Canada, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and others, sent their best young men to storm the beaches of Normandy and liberate an entire continent from the iron grip of a madman and a cult of death that surrounded him. Over 150,000 of them charged off of the troop carriers; at least 2500 never made it off the beaches, or in some cases, not even onto the beaches. No one actually knows the exact number lost on D-Day, and many of the dead were never found. The official casualty figure, including wounded and missing, exceeds 10,000.
To these heroic men, those who died and those who lived to keep fighting, we owe great thanks for preserving Western civilization when it appeared close to collapse. Without their courage, tyranny would have prevailed, massive genocides would have been commonplace, and the world would have gone to utter ruin.
Usually we celebrate the great leaders when we reflect on World War II, but the anniversary of D-Day is a day to reflect on the heroes who clawed their way onto and off of the beaches in the face of withering fire, overwhelmed a truly evil regime, and set the stage for its destruction.
Update: Ronald Reagan’s 40th anniversary speech at Normandy remains moving: