For 70 years, the date of June 6 has been one uttered with a deserved degree of reverence around the world.
It was the day, perhaps more than any other, that started a clock ticking, one that would continue until a madman’s dream of world domination came to an abrupt, violent end in with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a bunker.
Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, a day that was as horrible as it was necessary. German military personnel were entrenched in Normandy, France, on that day in 1944. From the seas and from the skies came a massive military operation by the United States and its Allies.
It was the largest seaborne invasion in the history of the world.
More than 160,000 troops stormed the beaches that day, facing tremendous fire from their Nazi foes. Supported by 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft, that 50-mile stretch of French coastline became the focus of a world at war. The cost was great. More than 12,000 brave Allied troops were wounded or killed that day, a tremendous human sacrifice. Each grain of sand captured was done so with the blood of men fighting for an ideal.
When it was over, the Allies who were intent on saving the world from rule by the Axis powers prevailed. America and its Allies now had a toehold from which they would march — 100,000 troops strong, followed by thousands more as the month wore on — into Europe and repel the forces of German dictator Adolph Hitler.
Tyranny had seen its day, and the sunset was nearing. The French Republic would soon be free from Axis domination, as would the rest of Europe.
Had this Operation Overlord not worked, it’s anyone’s guess as to what our world would look like today.
Each year this critical day in America and the world’s history is observed, though these 10th-year anniversaries are more prominent in our minds. As the years have worn on, fewer and fewer of the brave veterans who survived the D-Day invasion are able to make the trip as their ages are in the late 80s and 90s now. When the 80th anniversary rolls around, there may be none.
Losing the perspective of those who endured this pivotal battle in our freedom will leave the world poorer. We hope that as many as possible are recording their memories of their experiences for future generations. It is a day that should never be forgotten, a day that — regardless of whether we’re aware of it — has had a profound impact on our lives.
The story of what happened on June 6, 1944 is not something that glorifies war. It is the story of how men and women stood up for freedom and placed their lives on the line to ensure that their families then, those of us here today and those who will follow us would never have to bow a knee to a petty dictator. We owe these brave souls a great deal, and this is a good day to remember that, and to fully appreciate it.
— The Albany Herald Editorial Board