06 June 2012


World War II was arguably the defining event of the twentieth century.  Today marks the 68th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Nazi-held Normandy, France ~ the largest amphibious invasion in history, and the definitive turning point of World War II.  The landings took place along a 50-mile stretch of coast divided into five sectors (see map below) ~

The invasion was officially named Operation Overlord, but is known universally as D-Day.  The invasion fleet was the largest ever assembled ~ over 5000 ships.  The landings were preceded by paratroop drops behind enemy lines the night before, and by a massive naval artillery barrage and air attack.  Over 157,000 Allied troops landed on the first day alone, meeting heavy German resistance.  

You can read in more detail about the complex, secret planning and execution of D-Day here.  Two movies stand out for their depiction of the harsh reality of the invasion and its aftermath ~ Saving Private Ryan and the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.

The generation which fought to save the world from Hitler's domination (and that of his Axis partners Benito Mussolini of Italy and Emperor Hirohito) was my parents' generation.  Those brave men and women, now in their 80s and 90s, are passing from our midst by the thousands daily.  Please take a quiet moment to honor their sacrifice.

Far too many free people in this world have no familiarity or understanding for momentous events in our recent past.  It is disturbing that many cannot describe why World War II took place, or when, or who the combatants were, or what life would be like today if we had lost.  Think the holocaust.  I am against war in principle.  But our fighting in World War II was an honorable necessity against unprovoked aggression.  It is important to know history, lest we repeat it. 

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