General Eisenhower addressing paratroopers before invasion

General Eisenhower addressing paratroopers before invasion

I remember being a kid growing up in the 1970s. Dad was a WWII veteran having served in the Atlantic beginning in 1942. He and his contemporaries (most who served in the war) were now in their mid 50’s. D-Day was only 30 years in the past (which is about exactly the time that has passed since I graduated from high school). It was still “fresh” in the minds of several generations, and for mine, it seemed like an eternity passed. To make matters worse, we really didn’t learn about it in school…I think it was still not really considered “history.”

As I sit and ponder the gravity of the sacrifice now 70 YEARS in the past, I’m in awe. The men that scaled the beaches at Normandy (Utah, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword); the men that parachuted from the sky; the men who made the ultimate sacrifice…this is what we must always remember as generations pass. My tradition has been to watch the greatest movie of this battle – The Longest Day starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda (along with an incredible cast) – every year on this date. Due to graduation ceremony commitments, I will have to move to tomorrow. This is a stark reminder for me and as we hit a decade anniversary, it becomes even more important.

4,000 Allied men died during the invasion. 4,000. Let that sink in. The number of men who fought in this battle and are still alive is dwindling rapidly. I encourage yo to keep this memory alive by learning more about the actual battle; the decision-makers like Eisenhower and Churchill; the Commanders; and the men who changed the war at its most critical point.

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

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