What makes free men jump out of landing craft in rough seas jump out to face this?
Sixty-seven years ago, free men of America, Great Britain, Canada, and Poland-in-exile stormed the shores of Normandy into the teeth of Adolf Hitler’s Fortress Europe. The losses at Omaha Beach especially were astounding; over 4400 Allied servicemen died in the assault, and 7500 more were wounded or went missing. Americans made up almost two-thirds of the overall casualties (over 6600). The German casualty figures were never known, but estimates range from 4000 to 9000. But that was just the first day of the Battle of Normandy. By the time Normandy was secured, over 425,000 casualties had been inflicted on both sides, 209,000 by Allied forces. Another 200,000 troops were captured by the allies. The French paid a price, too; over 15,000 civilians were killed in the Battle of Normandy.
Think of that picture above and the courage it took to take that first step. Many of the men who saw this vista died without ever getting past the shore. What made them take that step? Certainly discipline strengthened them, but these men knew that they faced one of the most evil regimes the world had ever known — and that the Nazis wouldn’t stop with Europe. Evil could not be contained, nor appeased; it had to be fought and destroyed, and that it would take a tremendous sacrifice to end it. They went forth to battle evil, and even if they as individuals fell, these men knew that liberty and justice would defeat evil, and that their sacrifice would make that victory possible.
Not for nothing do we call this our “Greatest Generation.” Most of them are gone now, but their valor and dedication live on to challenge, inspire, rebuke, and encourage us. We should not less this date pass without some remembrance as long as free people cherish their liberty.