NOTE FROM NORM: D-Day
At approximately 6:30 in the morning the first allied troops arrived on the beaches of Normandy. My dad, Norm Sr. was one of them.
They landed at places named Omaha, Juno, Utah, Gold and Sword.
As they did, they were met with hellfire. Yet they rarely spoke of the hell they experienced. They neither asked for nor expected accolades.
By the time the initial assault was completed more than 160,000 allied troops had been landed along a 50-mile stretch of the beaches of Normandy.
More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion.
More than 9,000 allied soldiers were killed or wounded.
But this much was true: This was not the end of Hitler and the Nazis, but it was most certainly the beginning of the beginning of the end.
From the end of that war did not come the end of war.
In a few short years America would be at war in Korea and then in Vietnam – fighting against those who were being kept armed and fortified by nations that once fought alongside of us.
For even far longer than a “hot war” the world was embroiled in a Cold War that came to an end after nearly 45 years with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the empire of the Soviet Union.
Why, 75 years later, should any of this matter to any of us in America?
And, why, 75 years later, do many European Nations commemorate D-Day?
It most certainly is not to glorify war.
The human toll of World War II is simply staging and beyond comprehension.
Up to 85 million human beings perished – nearly 3% of the world’s population at the time – died directly or indirectly as the result of World War II.
The reason we recognize this day is so that we should never see this day again.
Today, the act of waging war is different than the act was 75 years ago.
To shove Hitler off the European continent couldn’t be done with smart bombs or B52 Bombers or Drones.
There were no precision strikes by an elite Team of Special Forces that could bring an end to Hitler’s ruthless perch on power.
No, that would take men – hundreds of thousands of them on this day – and ultimately millions more of them after this day to finally bring Hitler and Fascism’s days to an end across Europe.
Will we ever see the massing of humanity in such a way to achieve an outcome needed to restore peace in the world?
We should hope and pray we do not.
Yet, the threat to world peace and human lives and freedom and democracy is no less real today than it was 75 years ago.
The threats are different – the potential lethality of war so much greater – and the long-term impacts on our planet beyond comprehension.
The lessons of 75 years ago cannot be lost on America or the world. We forget them at our own peril and that of future generations.
Let us never forget those who the world called upon to fight the battles and wage the war to bring freedom and liberty to the world.
The website www.ourmilitary.com writes that “…according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, less than 500,000 of the 16 million Americans who fought in World War 2 are still alive today. That’s only around 3% of them, and as their age increases, it’s likely that their death rate will continue to increase as well, with an estimated 348 deaths per day.”
As the website explains, in less than five years even the oldest World War II veteran will be gone.
My father, Norm Sr. is one of those World War II soldiers who has departed this world for the next.
He, and his band of brothers, did the fighting and the dying and ultimately the freeing of an imprisoned continent and millions of souls along with it.
It was young men, led by old men, who tore open the gates of the concentration camps and reeled in horror at man’s inhumanity to man as dead and dying eyes stared back at them.
Prisoners unable to fathom that their freedom had arrived – liberators unable to fathom how the hope and promise of freedom had kept so many alive.
The price we pray for freedom and liberty for America does not come cheaply. In treasure and blood, we have paid dearly for the rights and liberties which were granted to us by our Constitution but can never failed to be defended.
Thirty-years ago on June 4th and 5th, thousands of young men and women striving for their own liberty were massacred by their government in Tiananmen Square in China.
Thirty years later few in China remember these events – know about these events – or choose, or are allowed, to honor the sacrifice of those who died in the pursuit of human freedom.
We remember D-Day not because we wish to honor the horror of war.
We do so to remember that Freedom is not free.
From America’s birth to today it never has been.
It never will be.