72nd D-Day Anniversary, June 6, 2016

As time goes on, there are fewer people who remember that today is the anniversary of D-Day.

Fewer still who recall with specificity what happened today, in 1944. Or why it mattered.

One hundred-fifty thousand allied troops, half of them American, landing in Nazi-occupied Europe for the ultimate showdown in the European theater of WW2. Two thousand-five hundred Americans would die, some before their feet touched Normandy’s sands. Above them, some 12,000 Allied aircraft. Behind them, 6,000 ships.

Every year, people say, there are fewer and fewer of the “Greatest Generation” still with us. We’re losing their story.

But maybe it’s not that simple. After all, the Americans who clambered out of foundering landing craft and scrambled up beaches named Juno, Sword, Omaha, Utah and Gold were merely the men born into a certain span of year. For all the historical scrutiny and research, no one has found that they had a genetic difference, or ate better, or enjoyed a unique advantage.

We have always produced such men, and we still do.

They were called upon to do something extraordinary, and yet, quintessentially American: do the impossible, plan something bigger than anything else ever attempted, improvise when that plan fell apart and fight, bleed and die on land that was not and never would be theirs. They fought valorously for another man’s family, village, survival. They did what no one else would or could.

We have always produced such men, and we still do.

 

 

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