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SHAEF_patchSeventy years ago today, our people, primarily the English-speaking peoples mounted the greatest invasion in history, as they invaded 5 beaches which will, as long as our nations last, be known as Sword, Juno, Gold, Utah, and Omaha. This was OVERLORD, and seventy years ago today was D-Day. Which until that day was what American planners had always called the day of execution for a plan. They never have again, this will always be D-Day.

This marked the beginning of the liberation of Europe from tyranny. The invasion forces were primarily British, Canadian, and American, along with some Free French and Polish troops under the command of General Eisenhower. The mission against Nazi Germany would end in May of 1945, the liberation of the rest of Europe would end (if it has yet) in 1990 with the fall of the Soviet Union.

Our people have recorded many triumphs in our history, and this “Mighty Endeavor”  is one of the greatest. But there is something I have noticed about these men, our fathers and grandfathers, they are very like us but, unlike us, they referred easily and unashamedly to their Christianity, no matter their politics. It was, for the most part, the old Christianity that for two thousand years has sustained our people, in their duty, whatever the brand. I think we would do well to remember what that faith has meant to the people of the world, in these troubled times.

From King George VI, speaking to the world

The American people woke up that day to this from President Roosevelt

And General Eisenhower sent this message to the invasion forces

One thing we should note, it was a very risky business, indeed. The weather forecast was not really good enough, and the next window was far enough away that it would have been very hard to maintain security. A very brave RAF Group Captain Stagg, almost alone, told Eisenhower that it would be good enough weather. General Eisenhower with his usual decisiveness said, very simply, “OK, Let’s go“. But we should also remember that it had taken years to amass enough men and materiél to attempt it, it would have taken years to try again. It’s doubtful that there would have been time before Soviet Russia conquered Germany (and maybe France as well).

But Eisenhower also knew it was his responsibility and prepared this, and this is a lesson for us all. Pay and prestige are nice, we all enjoy them but, when it goes wrong, this is how we are meant to be.


And that’s a hard lesson for us all. (Yes, he got the month wrong, even for him the stress showed occasionally.)

In this, the centennial year of the beginning of the Great War, there are many controversies that swirl about the politics of the wars of the twentieth century, and many of them are very familiar to at least some of the readership here, such as just what else Chamberlain could have done at the time of Munich, and to be honest, I’m more sympathetic to him than most Americans are. Yes, I can be a bit of a revisionist at times, as well.

But whatever was done right, or wrong, in those controversies, the mistakes, and the correct decisions as well, were made good by the blood, and the heroism, of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, of our countries. Who, as always, went where they were ordered, and did as they were told, griping all the way, they are the men and women who created the world that is peaceful enough for us to argue about other things. There are few of them left now, and they deserve our thanks as we honor their sacrifice.

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