*”The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later Europe) from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.”
“Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. The weather on D-Day was far from ideal and the operation had to be delayed 24 hours; a further postponement would have meant a delay of at least two weeks as the invasion planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days each month were deemed suitable. Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and of developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion.”
Some of those brave men who were part of the invasion of Normandy are still alive today. While they are old and frail, their boyhoods in that horrific ordeal are still in their eyes. Many cannot hold back tears as they talk about their lost friends. Many of them wonder why they were spared when others weren’t and went on to have families and lives of peace.
I can’t imagine what they went through and what they saw and endured. I once had a friend whose husband was part of the American troops that went to Germany to help free the remaining prisoners in the death camps. The prisoners were starving and sick and, as many put it, were like ‘walking skeletons.’ My friend said that her young and happy husband went there as a boy, and came back as a grim and silent man.
It’s hard for us in our generation to wrap our minds around what these brave men and women did. History has recorded their bravery, their courage, their love of country and humanity; but we will never completely know the cost of what they did.
So why do we remember D-Day and the price paid for those who sacrificed their lives? Because we need to remember that freedom is never free. We need to remember that brave men and women went gladly into war, knowing that they might not return home. That kind of dedication, loyalty, love and courage is gift to us all. Please may we never ever forget.