Not Just An Ordinary Day

Do you know what today is, June 6th? Is it just another day? Is there anything special about it that should be remembered? If I were to poll the demonstrators and protesters that have been going about making their voices heard and in some places, causing complete chaos and havoc… would they know that there is something about June 6th that is very special? In 10-15 years, when my nieces and nephews are in the teen years, what will they know about June 6th? It was NOT just an ordinary day!

June 6th, 1944 – 76 years ago – on the sandy beaches of Normandy… Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach and Sword Beach… Approximately 13,000 American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions made parachute drops early on the morning of June 6th followed by approximately 4,000 glider troops with supporting weapons, medical supplies and signal units later that morning.

June 1944, France: Paratroopers drop into Normandy. (Photograph: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS)

By 6:30am on June 6th, 1944, what would become the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare had commenced. More than 150,000 of the most brave & resolute soldiers from the Allies of the United States, Britain and Canada stormed the beaches of Normandy.

The German forces were dug in deep on the beaches and their resistance would be fierce. The weather in the initial invasion was not optimal and would make the fighting more intense in the early hours of the invasion.

Allied military leaders understood that the cost of such an invasion would be a high price. But, they were will to pay that price to push the German Nazis out of France. It was a bold strategy. If they would have been defeated, these men would have gone down in history as maddening fools. But, they would not hear of defeat. It was NOT an option because it was NOT just another ordinary day.

Brave men waiting to launch out into the morning sky to defend freedom at any cost.

Was this man thinking about his family? Was he searching through the depths of his memories to see his mother’s face, perhaps for what he thought may be his last time? Was he thinking about the letter in his pocket, close to his heart, that told of his son that was just born. A son that he has never seen or never held… perhaps he is praying that he’ll get a chance to meet his son.

With the airborne troops already on the ground, infranty and land support began arriving on shore via Higgins Boats. As they splashed into the water, bullets strafed by their heads. Artillery exploded overhead. Men fell quickly in the ensuing chaos. There was no time to lend aid to the man that become your best friend. Bodies floating in the water, men screaming in pain and agony and those close to death begging to see their mother just one more time.

It was a time of epic tragedy, epic loss and finally epic victory! Men are jumping from their Higgins Boat into water above their heads, water that was stained red with the blood of their brothers who had already fallen.

Scenes from the U.S. landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, 76 years ago. (Robert Capa / Magnum Photos

According to the D-Day Center, the invasion, officially called “Operation Overlord,” combined the forces of 156,115 U.S., British and Canadian troops, 6,939 ships and landing vessels, and 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders that delivered airborne troops. D-Day would take years of planning and plenty of subterfuge to confuse, perplex and frustrate Adolf Hitler and the German Nazis. To that end, the Allies used fake radio transmissions, double agents and even a “phantom army” commanded by American General George Patton to trick the Nazis into thinking that the Allies would invade at Pas-de-Calais, the closest French coastline to England.

But, on June 6th, in wave after wave of thousands of landing ships, more than 156,000 Allied infantrymen stormed the five beaches. Facing them on the fortified beach-fronts were 50,000 German troops. By June 11th, all five of those beaches in Normandy had been secured by the Allied Forces.

The cost was high. On June 6th, the Allied losses at Normandy are estimated to be at least 4,413 killed.

Causalities and wounded line the beaches of Normandy on June 6th, 1944

(https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2016/0516_dday/docs/d-day-fact-sheet-the-beaches.pdf)

It was NOT just an ordinary day on June 6th, 1944 on the Beaches of Normandy. Matter of fact, it was anything BUT ordinary. These were heroes who woke up that morning whose lives had a destiny with greatness. Let’s not forget their sacrifices. The actions and heroics of those men on June 6th, 1944 changed the course of World War II. Within a year, Germany signed an unconditional surrender on May 7th, 1945.

I endeavor to never forget the sacrifice of these men… these heroic men, many of whom never made it home to see their family again. Their sacrifice is the reason I live in the greatest country on earth.

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