“The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. …I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.”
(Dwight D. Eisenhower’s speech, June 6, 1944)
There’s exciting news I’m happy to move to the back burner (I can self-promote any day) to honour these incredibly, unfathomably brave men. Earlier today I read a post noting that due to the conditions of the Normandy Invasion, we will never truly know how many men gave their lives in order to save Western civilization and, indeed, the remainder of the globe from the very real threat of Nazi domination under Adolph Hitler (that said, historians estimate over 110,000 men from both sides died in the battle).
We all—every one of us—owes these men a debt of gratitude we shall never be able to repay.
Of course, this being the 70th anniversary of that fateful day, when the people of this nation bowed their head to pray along with FDR, who prayed on the radio after speaking to us about what was happening across the Atlantic, we have very few men who witnessed and took part in the Invasion left. Most of them are in their 90s, like paratrooper Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, seen in this incredible photograph (he still looks ready to kick some tail); at the age of 93, he parachuted onto Utah Beach again yesterday, just as he had with the rest of the 101st Airborne in 1944.
Another D-Day veteran, 89 year-old Bernard Jordan of Sussex, England, disappeared from his care home today, only to be discovered at Normandy, wearing his medals and meeting his brothers in arms. These are the last of a generation willing to lay down their lives for something, the last of a generation who saw something worth dying for.
What a debt we owe those men.
Just a few links for you all as we commemorate this solemn and awe-inspiring anniversary:
“The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”
Photos from New York City just hours after Americans learned of the D-Day Invasion
Photographs of the invasion itself
Dwight D. Eisenhower’s D-Day message to the troops; the launching of the Normandy invasion
Thoughtful reminices including words from the warriors themselves, the most popular songs of the day, photographs, and more from The Independent Sentinel
Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons
Canada’s Maclean’s reminds us that the fighting on D-Day is only one thing we honour these men for (many, many Canadians died on those beaches)
Normandy’s coastline in 1944 and today (what a comparison—the people of today can only do what they’re doing in the photos because of the men in 1944, but do they consider it as they frolic over the sands where men were gunned down?)