Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6th, 1944: Nothing Less Than Full Victory

"Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely. 

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory! I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory! 

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking." 
-- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Many of us have never served, have never given up our time and families and our way of life to defend our country and ensure our freedoms.  But we say we understand.  We know that the reason we lay our heads down at night under the blanket of freedom is because, from Lexington Green to the sands of Iraq, brave men and women have paid the ultimate price out of love for their country.  Many of us take the time to thank a soldier, a Marine, a sailor, an airman when we have the opportunity.  We put yellow ribbons on our cars.  We change our cover photos and profile pictures.  We give $5 to Wounded Warriors Project.  We cry during the National Anthem and we bang on the bar top during Toby Keith songs.

But do we understand??  Do you really understand??  Do you know that on this day, 70 years ago, 73,000 American men from Infantry and Airborne divisions landed along the coastline of France to fight the entrenched German Nazis.  13,000 men from the 82nd and 101st Airborne dropped in from airplanes inland from the beaches among machine gun fire from the ground.  23,250 Infantry landed on Utah Beach while 34,250 Infantry came ashore on Omaha Beach under heavy German fire from the cliffs above.  They did not turn and run.  They pushed!  They had an objective and they would achieve it, at all costs.  Most recent data shows that 2,499 Americans died that day.  Many of them would not have even been there had they not lied about their age just so that they could serve their country.

Today is not just about remembering one invasion.  It's about one invasion representing the level of bravery, courage and sacrifice our military men and women own each and every day.

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