Remembering D-Day Is Important . . . - The Missourian: Columns

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Remembering D-Day Is Important . . .

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Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 6:00 pm

verage Americans in their late teens and early 20s and 30s do not know why the date June 6, 1944, is significant in American history. They also don’t know what D-Day means.

Who is at fault? Their American history teachers? Their families for not discussing historic dates with their children? Military veterans’ organizations for not putting more emphasis on the date? The media for not doing more to direct attention to June 6? The blame can be spread out with a lack of education about American history leading the way.

June 6, 1944, was D-Day when in World War II Allied Forces invaded France in the largest land invasion in world hisory. The bloody but successful invasion began the march to Berlin and the defeat of Nazi Germany to end World War II in Europe. The preparations for the assault on French beaches fortified by the Germans, the march to Berlin and the overthrow of evil-man Adolph Hitler, the end of hostilities in Europe, this is the greatest story ever told in military history.

hat’s why the date is so significant! That is why the young people today who are ignorant of the significance of D-Day should have knowledge of it — the freedoms they enjoy would not have been possible had the United States and its allies lost the 1941-45 crusade to destroy the Axis forces whose goal was to rule the world.

The sacrifices made, especially on D-Day, were for all of us. This country lost some of its finest men and women on the beaches of Normandy and the fighting that followed.

For the older generation who were boys and girls during the World War II years, and the veterans of WWII who still are with us, D-Day can never be forgotten. Their appreciation of D-Day lives on — those memories never die. It is up to the present generation to preserve those memories and to ensure that those patriotic memories are everlasting!

reparations for the invasion had been in progress for more than two years. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, gave the order for a “go” on D-Day even though threatening weather posed a risk. The code name for the invasion was “Operation Overlord,” coined by England’s leader, Winston Churchill. The planning for the invasion was a story in itself. By D-Day two million American troops were in England. Military camps and airfields were built all over England. Training was at a high pitch. Supplies piled up, along with military equipment. The invasion plan included dropping 13,000 paratroopers ahead of the invasion. Gliders also were to be used to land troops inland. Naval and air operations were a major part of the operation and keen coordination would be required. Neptune was the assault phase of the invasion.

Since it was an Allied operation, the in-fighting was considerable among the military leaders. One of Gen. Eisenhower’s tasks was to keep peace among the other Allied generals.

Germany’s Fieldmarschall Erwin Rommel had the mission to fortify nearly 2,500 miles of coastline. His plan was to smash the attack on the beaches. He said the first 24 hours of the invasion would be decisive . . . for the Allies, as well as Germany, “it will be the longest day.”

The invasion was risky. Gen Eisenhower even had prepared a statement to be issued if the invasion failed. In it he took the blame. Of course, he never had to issue the statement.

About 75,215 British and Canadian troops and 57,500 U.S. troops were involved in landings on five beaches named Gold, Utah, Juno, Omaha and Sword. The U.S. had the toughest beaches and our losses were about 6,000 or more. There were about 4,300 British and Canadian casualties.

D-Day is one of the most significant events in American military history. We should never forget the sacrifices made on D-Day.

/opinion/columns