Preserving a legacy
“We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.”
— President Ronald Reagan, at a cemetery in Normandy, June 6, 1984, the 40th anniversary of D-Day.
Today marks the 73rd anniversary of D-Day — June 6, 1944.
On that day, some 155,000 allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in France and the fight to retake Europe from the clutches of Nazi Germany was fully engaged.
According to the website for the D-Day museum, before the battle of Normandy was officially over in August of 1944, some 425,000 Allied and German troops died, were wounded or were officially missing.
Twenty-seven military cemeteries in the area hold the graves of over 110,000 soldiers.
A program on television revealed that the supreme Allied commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, had written a note on the eve of the invasion taking full responsibility if the attack failed. Luckily, the success of the Allied attack made the letter moot and its existence remained hidden for years.
The fighting in Europe went on for another 11 months and hostilities in the Pacific continued until August 1945.
The brave soldiers had saved the world from tyranny. The sacrifices made by those service people allowed the Western Allies to go on to build the most affluent society in history. A middle class flourished.
Now, as we look back at all the sacrifices made, we need to ask ourselves if we are worthy successors to that “Greatest Generation.” It is a good time to rededicate ourselves to the ideals they fought for — and make sure we don’t squander their legacy.
“Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: ‘I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.’
“Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value (valor), and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.”
— The conclusion of Reagan’s 40th anniversary speech.
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