D-Day, June 6, 1944, was 75 years ago today. It was the pivotal invasion of Normandy, with heavy sacrifices of allied forces that lead to the defeat of Hilter and Nazi Germany.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then supreme commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces in World War II gave the go-ahead for a massive invasion of Europe called Operation Overlord, encouraging his troop with the following Memo:
Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force:
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.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations1 have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
We cannot forget that day, and the sacrifices of our servicemen who stormed the beaches.
36 years later, D-Day took on its own personal meaning for me. On June 6, 1980, I hit the beach in Delaware on the last day of my first year of law school. I then met my future wife, Margie Lazzati. Our summer fling continues.
My privilege to have that later rendezvous with destiny is due somewhat to the supreme sacrifices made by many so that I could grow up free. Thank you.
That personal legacy also brings D-Day so much closer for me. As a young man, I was fascinated by WWII history. However, D-Day seemed like ancient history. Looking back now, with the span of 39 years since I met my bride to be, it wasn’t so long ago.
Each year I am blessed at least twice on this day.
Am I the only one who senses historical events like D-Day are drawing closer to me as I age? History becomes personal when you have some of it yourself.