Today marks the anniversary of D-Day (codenamed Operation Overlord), the Allied invasion of France which commenced 6 June 1944 — the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe. It was one of the epic battles in defense of American Liberty, and by extension, that of all mankind.
Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower issued this charge: “You are about to embark upon a great crusade. … The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of Liberty loving people everywhere march with you. … You will bring about … the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe. … Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely. … And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
Franklin Roosevelt led the nation in a prayer for the thousands of men crossing the English Channel: “Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. … They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom. And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice. … And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. … Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.”
Before daybreak, hundreds of planes dropped paratroopers behind German lines to capture bridges and railroad tracks. At dawn, battleship guns began softening the beaches, hitting German coastal fortifications. Thousands of amphibious craft landed on five beaches, and 156,000 American, British, Canadian and French troops fought their way ashore on the 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified beaches — the largest invasion force in history, involving more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft.
Our U.S. forces who landed at Omaha Beach struggled with high seas, fog, mines and enemy fire that poured down from high bluffs. Many soldiers were shot as they departed their landing craft, dying in the bloody surf. Those who reached the sand met a wall of machine-gun fire. One commander told his men that only two types of people would stay on the beach — those dead and those going to die — so they’d better push forward. In some units on Omaha, 90% of the troops were killed or wounded. But the assault force managed to cross the beach and drive the Germans inland. At Utah Beach, the other U.S. landing zone, the first wave of troops found themselves 2,000 yards south of where they were supposed to be. It was a lucky miss since the area was not as heavily defended as the original target. Quick-thinking commanders ordered troops to follow the first wave ashore to secure a beachhead.
Before sunset that day, there were confirmed 4,414 Allied Forces who perished. American casualties in WWII were unprecedented. There were 405,399 deaths and 670,846 wounded. We humbly salute all the WWII American and Allied Patriots and their families for their untold service and sacrifice. On September 2, 1945 (six years and one day after hostilities commenced), Germany’s surrender was secured.
Total WWII battle deaths worldwide are estimated at more than 15 million, with more than 25 million wounded, and civilian deaths estimated at more than 45 million. We owe these Greatest Generation Patriots, and generations before and since, an enormous debt of gratitude. We owe them our steadfast devotion to American Liberty over enemies foreign and domestic in our own day, so that gift may be extended to the next generation.