published Monday, June 6th, 2011

The D-Day invasion

Free people all over the world owe a debt of gratitude to the Allied troops who heroically landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944 — 67 years ago today. The invasion helped set the stage for Allied victory in the war.

We can scarcely imagine how differently World War II might have turned out had that effort not succeeded.

What if the war had ended not in indisputable Allied victory but in a stalemate with Nazi Germany and the Axis powers? Think how horribly different our world today might be if Nazi totalitarianism had not been decisively defeated. After all, victory was by no means certain. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had said prior to the invasion on D-Day that he accepted responsibility if the landing should fail.

Fortunately for the whole world, the D-Day invasion did not fail.

On that day in 1944, a massive naval force crossed the English Channel and landed on the coast of German-occupied France. Roughly 160,000 Allied troops — including a vast number of Americans — had been mustered for the invasion. Thousands would die or be wounded during the courageous attack, as they were fired upon by entrenched German soldiers.

Tens of thousands more, however, would survive and begin battling their way across Europe. As a result, on May 7, 1945, the Nazis were forced to surrender. Imperial Japan would surrender later that year, marking the end of World War II and the liberation of tens of millions from fascist oppression.

We can never repay the debt owed to those brave soldiers who stormed the beaches at Normandy. We can, however, honor their sacrifice by upholding the principles of freedom for which so many of them died.

We should resolve to do that individually — and to demand the same of our elected leaders.

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