D-Day was 65 years ago today. The U.S. Army has an interesting website with information, photos, and a transcript of General Eisenhower’s famous speech to the troops. The successful invasion of Normandy marked the beginning of the end for the Nazi regime in Germany and changed the world — not forever or unalterably, but for the better.
D-Day was a day where ordinary men who had trained to be soldiers did extraordinary things. I think the photo above helps to capture — admittedly, in a very limited way — what it must have been like to be on one of the landing craft on that fateful day. I cannot imagine, however, what it must have been like to leave that craft, to jump into the water as the bullets flew and the artillery fire raged, to make your legs move and keep your head as friends were being killed, and then to take the beachhead. When the beachhead was taken and the pillboxes had been knocked out and the adrenalin flow began to return to normal, what was it like to stand on the heights and look back on the carnage? Did the men reflect with pride on their achievement, or mourn their dead friends, or pray, or just want to smoke a cigarette and thank their luck and their God?
We should never forget their sacrifice.