The theater of battle was filled with trucks, tanks, warships and frightened men who weren’t sure of ever returning home. As they faced what seemed to be an unbeatable force, the fear of death had to be at the forefront of their minds.
There were the seasoned officers, who had already faced death. There were the non-commissioned officers on the ground who took over for their commanding officers as they fell in battle. There were the young, frightened, shell shocked and those who had no clue what lay ahead for them.
Our young people don’t hear much about these decisive battles anymore. Unfortunately history has become something that offends rather than teaches. Do we not have an obligation to look at our past so these things will never have to happen again – or at least at such a great cost? Our kids need to know about the courage of placing your life on the line for your country. They have to be taught about the perils of war – the blood shed – the wounded warriors returning without limbs and scarred emotionally for the rest of their lives.
Those young men sat waiting to face death, huddled in landing crafts with only their fears to assail them and their prayers to give them strength and comfort. Adrenaline was pumping, courage was building, their short lives passed quickly before their eyes. The seas remained rough, the skies filled with dark clouds as the waves crashed as the weight of it all grew heavy. When they reached the beach, the ramp would be lowered and two hundred troops would emerge with guns drawn, to face a barrage of certain death. It was the largest amphibious invasion in history to that point.
There are still a few veterans who have memories of this battle engraved into their minds. Those who came home would face flash backs, depression and other related emotional problems. Many would be hailed as heroes, but few felt they deserved the honor. The true definition of hero is someone who does what is necessary for the benefit of his fellow man without question. They just do it.
More than 9000 allied troops lost their lives or were wounded in the invasion, but this battle would eventually allow 100,000 troops to slowly cross Europe and end the reign of terror caused by Adolf Hitler and his insane desire for power.
We owe our military a debt of gratitude. That includes remembering them with great honor and thanks. It has been 75 years since the invasion at Normandy, but we should never forget the cost. In defense of their country and for the cause of freedom, these troops were not only able to fight the battle, but to win the war.
“When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’ ” Deuteronomy 20:1-4