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Monday, June 6, 2011

The Sixth Day of the Sixth Month

Today is the 67th anniversary of D-Day, the Allies' first move to gain a foothold on the main European continent to push back the Nazis.

The invasion of fortified Normandy, France, had originally been planned for June 5, 1944, but because of weather was pushed off for a day. Air assault conducted soon after midnight softened the Nazi entrenchments of Normandy (bridges, road crossings, terrain features and such). The amphibious assault occurred soon after 6 am along five beaches: Gold, Juno, Omaha, Sword, and Utah. Germans mowed down soldiers from high cliffs, yet the Allies persisted and were able to establish a beachhead from which they launched their counter-invasion of Europe. This was the largest one-day invasion ever, with more than 130,000 troops landed by the end of June 6.

I am humbled thinking about these brave young men going forward in the face of blinding artillery and seemingly certain death in order to free nations from the Nazis' grip. Anyone who has seen that opening scene of Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan will have a hard time wiping those (realistically staged) images from his mind.

I am humbled thinking of all of the soldiers and civilians, throughout history, who have bravely and anonymously faced terrifying conditions and made wrenching choices in order to improve the lives of others. So much of what we enjoy in this country is due to these sacrifices.

It seems insufficient, but I just wish to say to these men and women, thank you.

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