Today marks the 71st anniversary of the D-Day invasions. 71 years ago today, wives, mothers, and sweethearts around the world lost the men they loved in one of the most grueling encounters of World War II.
I was talking to someone the other day, and they asked me a question. Speaking of the start of the operation in which wave after wave brought in Allied troops, they asked, “Can you imagine what it would be like, being on one of those boats, and knowing that you’re probably going to get killed as soon as you get off?”
No, I cannot imagine what that must have been like. I can’t imagine the terror churning through their veins as they heard the sniper fire in the cliffs drowning out the screams of death. I can’t imagine the trauma of seeing friends – the guys with whom they shared their meals, back-home stories, and care-packages – crumple to the ground in a lifeless heap. I can’t imagine the tormenting thoughts racing through their minds as they stormed into the hailstorm of bullets – “Who’s going to take care of my wife and kids?” or “How is my mother going to handle losing her last son in this war?”
And as I think on all these things, I cannot help but wonder, would we have been willing to face the Nazi snipers on that bloody, French beach? Would you? Would I? Could our beliefs be rooted so deeply within us that we would be willing to die a nameless death on foreign soil? Would we be willing to let our blood mix with the grains of sand, to let the tide wash over our lifeless bodies, in order to defend the cause of liberty? Would we be willing to fall in the chaos in order to share the freedom we cherish with the world?
To those soldiers who gave their lives during the Invasion, we remember you today. We remember your sacrifice and your courage in the face of gut-wrenching fear.
To those soldiers who survived – we commend you. Your acts of bravery, like those of your fallen compatriots, live on in the legacy of this great country.
To the new generation of our military, to the men and women who proudly wear the uniform of their ancestors – we offer our gratitude. Your willingness to leave all comforts behind to enter the realm of uncertainty and danger is what keeps America great.
This is to every member of the United States military. From the early days of the American Revolution to the current War on Terrorism, your commitment to justice and freedom has made not only our nation but also our world a better place. We will never forget the sacrifices you have made. Today we offer our deepest thanks for all you’ve done to preserve the essence of the United States of America.