Posted by: SWL | June 6, 2014

70 Years Ago D-Day Changed Course of WWII

D-Day – June 6, 1944. In the early morning hours, an assault force of US and British troops crossed the English Channel. Leaders of these military forces had developed a high risk, and likely high casualty, plan to reclaim France for the Allies.

Looking toward Gold Beach

Looking toward Gold Beach

The beaches where the invasion forces would land were backed by bluffs. And atop the bluffs were German bunkers. Hours of Allied rocket fire had done little to lessen the potential for the Germans to defend their territory.

German bunker overlooking Omaha Beach

German command bunker

Adolph Hitler’s military leaders had been anticipating an Allied invasion farther to the east, where the English Channel was the narrowest. Although they were surprised on June 6, they still inflicted massive casualties on the first wave of Allied soldiers to come ashore. But the determination of the Allies, along with a bit of help from folks in the French countryside, made D-Day the turning point of World War II.

The French, and by extension most of western Europe, owe their freedom to the men who came ashore in Normandy. My daughter and son-in-law recently returned from a tour in Europe where they had about six hours to see as many of the D-Day sites as they could. They mentioned that in many of the villages along the coast, streets carry the names of military generals who directed the invasion. Time dims memories. As the French who experienced this piece of history pass away, I hope the next generation will understand what happened and be grateful.

Just as important, I hope that as the last of our WWII veterans pass on, Americans will continue to appreciate that we have had few attacks directly on American territory. Many people complain about the US providing military assistance to other nations. But as we help keep the peace overseas, it lessens the possibility that the enemies of our friends will become powerful enough to challenge us on US soil.

If you have the opportunity on this 70th anniversary of D-Day, express your thanks to a WWII vet.

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