May 29, 2023

D Day - Not about Golf

This weekend we remember those that fought for our freedom and died because of their efforts. The courage and strength of their convictions should be remembered and praised for their heroism.

In about a week, we will remember June 6, 1944 and the invasion of France on the Normandy coast by mainly American, British, and Canadian forces on five strategic beaches. Casualties were extremely high for this dangerous risky military operation. Last month I had the opportunity to visit the Normandy coast and walk on Utah beach were thousands of American soldiers debarked landing crafts and waded through rough seas and then faced land mines, barbed wire, and spiked obstacles all the while being showered by heavy fire from gun placements overlooking the beach. It is one thing to read about battles and imagine what took place, but to be there and see the actual site of the combat was for me very moving.

I next went to the Omaha beach landing. This was the place where the most American casualties occurred, because of the cliffs had to be scaled and the strong German fortifications in the area. Seeing this in person, my reaction was that this was an impossible task to land, get up the cliffs, and establish a foothold for your troops. I would guess those that landed and scaled the cliffs first thought this to be a suicide mission. What mindset is there that one must have to rush into conflict with the knowing of a low chance of survival?


Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument was erected by the French to commemorate the Second Ranger Battalion that climbed the 100 foot cliff by pulling themselves up using bayonets and knives while carrying 60 pounds of gear and then seizing the German artillery against overwhelming odds.

133,000 men landed on the beaches of France on June 6 and another 24,000 parachuted into the area to aid the attack. Because of these heroic efforts, by June 30, over 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies had landed on the Normandy shores. The cost was high in human lives, but that price was needed to liberate France and the rest of western Europe.

The Normandy American Cemetery in France is owned and maintained by the United States government. Everything about the complex is first class and a fitting tribute to the over 9,400 soldiers that are buried there. Walking the hallowed manicured grounds of endless crosses, I wondered about the stories that each soldier could tell and the sorrow of their loss of life. Many survived the battle, but few could erase the pain of their fallen comrades. If in France, a trip to the site of the June 6th landing should be on your list. God bless.


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