D-Day, June 6, 1944. Seventy-five years ago, American Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France; “Operation Overlord.”
It was the largest seaborne invasion and most significant amphibian operation in the history of warfare. Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, speaking to his troops, said, “Not to conquer any territory, not for any ambition of our own, but to make sure Hitler could not destroy freedom in the world.” Gen. Eisenhower gave the order of the day when speaking to the 101st Airborne Division stating, “We will accept nothing less than full victory.”
Seventy-three thousand American GIs landed on the beaches of Normandy or parachuted behind enemy lines. Of the 13,000 paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division, two-thirds of them were lost, killed, or wounded by the end of D-Day.
The Ranger Force 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalion scaled the cliffs towering above Omaha Beach, as their duty was to knock out guns overlooking the landing – U.S. Air Force supporting all military units on that day. Of the 225 Rangers, 135 were killed or wounded. Col. James Earl Rudder led the charge. The Navy and Coast Guard on the “Longest Day” came with 25,000 sailors and coast guardsmen – with 1,102 killed in action.
A total of 12 soldiers were awarded and earned the Medal of Honor, nine posthumously.
We must never forget this most memorable day, June 6, 1944, D-Day. It must be taught in our homes, schools, and churches. I pray our children for generations to come will always know the sacrifices that were made then and forever. You see, it was an individual effort and willingness of American veterans to sacrifice for our country that has earned them everlasting gratitude. We must pause and look back even as far as George Washington, who said to his troops before going to battle against the British: “I’ll die on my feet before I’ll live on my knees.”
Two words come to my mind as I look back, and that’s Christianity and patriotism that this great nation has shown. From the Patriots of 1770 until our present day, I thank God for U.S. military men and women. As a Vietnam Veteran, I know the sacrifices of war.
May we never forget those who served and are serving. God bless.
Houston County Commissioner, District 2