On Friday, the 70th anniversary of D-Day — specifically the landings at Normandy — was commemorated.
According to first-hand accounts recorded by the U.S. Army, forces were deployed onto the beaches of Normandy, France, in the largest seaborne invasion in history. Soldiers, (the average age was 24) loaded down with “about 100 pounds per man” would lead the Allied fight that would ultimately result in victory.
The strategic plan included a fiery air attack with more than 13,000 planes and a naval assault with more than 5,000 ships. All this preceded amphibious landings of infantry and armored divisions that totaled 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces.
Despite their superior vantage point, the Nazis were pushed back to Paris, breaking the grip of the Germans in France. The invasion would come to be called the “the beginning of the end of war in Europe.”
Between Roanoke and Lynchburg, Va., lies a community called Bedford. This rural town is home to the National D-Day Memorial. This location was not chosen by chance but out of respect.
In 1944, the population of Bedford, Va., was 3,200. On June 6, 1944, this small town lost more boys per capita than any other community in America – 19 during the invasion and four more during the remaining Normandy campaign.
These brave young men joined the more than 9,000 Allied soldiers who were killed or wounded on D-Day.
The speech given by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower spelled it out:
“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.
“... 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.”
Understand, this speech today would be viewed as politically incorrect, infringing upon the contrived constitutional ban on religion in public affairs, and representing an overzealous, “cowboy” foreign policy.
So, what was the news story dominating the headlines last week in America? Five senior Taliban terrorists were released from Guantanamo Bay detention camp and swapped for an American “POW.”
A few facts:
• The American was no prisoner of war. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl abandoned his post. The evidence includes emails, return of his effects to the states and writings about being “ashamed” to be an American.
• As many as 16 men lost their lives searching for this “deserter.”
• Barack Obama remains determined to keep a campaign promise to close Gitmo, among other laughable foreign policy initiatives.
In 2014, leftist leaders rewrite history and pursue a mystical land of world peace by surrendering to terrorists and honoring the Bowe Bergdahls of pacifism. Instead, let’s salute and honor those who sacrifice daily reflecting the courage of the Bedford Boys.
Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee’s Economic Council on Women.