D-Day: In memory, in gratitude
More than 5,300 ships.
More than 11,000 aircraft.
More than 160,000 troops.
And more courage than the world had ever seen.
The Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, the day we call D-Day, turned the course of history 75 years ago.
The cost was great for the130,000-plus put ashore along five beaches.
The hurt, the maimed, the missing neared 10,000 when all was said and done.
The death toll was almost 4,400, most still in their teens.
Those numbers were but the tip of the spear.
By Aug. 21, the Allies had landed more than 2 million troops in northern France, according to a stats sheet provided by the White House. More than 72,900 were killed or missing. Another 153,475 had been wounded.
Standing at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France on last Thursday, President Trump paid homage to those who stormed those German-held beaches as part of Operation Neptune.
… “We are gathered here on Freedom’s Altar,” the president said. “On these shores, on these bluffs, on this day 75 years ago, 10,000 men shed their blood, and thousands sacrificed their lives, for their brothers, for their countries, and for the survival of liberty.”
President Trump marked the gallantry of the Allied troops and noted the sacrifice of the two-pronged Western Task Force, made up primarily of the U.S. First Army.
“And, finally, there were the Americans. They came from the farms of a vast heartland, the streets of glowing cities, and the forges of mighty industrial towns. Before the war, many had never ventured beyond their own community. Now they had come to offer their lives half a world from home.
“This beach, codenamed Omaha, was defended by the Nazis with monstrous firepower, thousands and thousands of mines and spikes driven into the sand, so deeply. It was here that tens of thousands of the Americans came,” President Trump said.
“The GIs who boarded the landing craft that morning knew that they carried on their shoulders not just the pack of a soldier, but the fate of the world…”
And they did, indeed, make a difference.
“To the men who sit behind me, and to the boys who rest in the field before me, your example will never, ever grow old,” the president said. “Your legend will never tire. Your spirit – brave, unyielding, and true – will never die.
“The blood that they spilled, the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they made, did not just win a battle. It did not just win a war. Those who fought here won a future for our nation. They won the survival of our civilization. And they showed us the way to love, cherish, and defend our way of life for many centuries to come.
“Today, as we stand together upon this sacred Earth, we pledge that our nations will forever be strong and united. We will forever be together. Our people will forever be bold. Our hearts will forever be loyal. And our children, and their children, will forever and always be free.
“May God bless our great veterans. May God bless our Allies. May God bless the heroes of D-Day. And may God bless America.”
May their sacrifice be remembered. May our gratitude never grow cold.