Seventy-five years ago today, this LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) shown above from the USS Samuel Chase disembarked troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. From what I have read, this was the Fox Green sector within the sector code-named “Omaha” along a fifty mile stretch of coast in Normandy, France.
Upon landing, Company E encountered the German 352nd Division. Apparently they had actually intended to land at Easy Red to the west, but landed in Fox Green due to strong currents. German fortifications were much stronger on Fox Green. Two-thirds of Company E became casualties. Casualties among all of the Allied Forces that day were upwards of 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Operation Overlord, which included what we have since termed D-Day, June 6th 1944, was the largest seaborne invasion in history with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating.
The Battle at Normandy, which would last until August of that year would ultimately be a victory for the Allied Forces, liberating France and Western Europe from Nazi control. However, it would cost many lives. By Spring of the next year, Nazi Germany was fully defeated.
June 6th, 1944 is called by many, “the beginning of the end of the war in Europe”.
It’s hard to imagine what the world would be like today if not for the brave sacrifices these men made, some of them just barely men by age. Those who survived the perils of that day are today few and far between. They would be around their mid-nineties today.
I would love to meet one of them in person, but I’m not sure I will. If I did, I would first solemnly thank them. Then I would be tempted to apologize. Why? Because I imagine that America today seems to them like a nation of brats, using with ingratitude the freedoms they paid for with blood.
I realize every generation has its problems, but we seem to live in a generation where people use their own freedom to infringe on the freedoms of those they disagree with. They claim victimhood loudly and proudly without any visible signs of being persecuted or victimized for doing so. They use free and open platforms to declare that they somehow don’t have a voice. And from their very own elected, public positions, they claim their intersectional group is oppressed and marginalized. They frequently demand equal rights and as a bonus they end up with laws, ordinances, and institutional policies that give them privileges no one else has.
People today debate the minutia of whether dodgeball is an oppressive and bullying game, what pronouns they want to be called by, how much of their student loan debt other people should pay for them, and the ready access to safe-spaces where they don’t have to hear anything they don’t like. They want all these thing even at the expense of the liberties of others.
Meanwhile, the hero’s we remember on this day in history ran toward an almost certain death, not away from it, because liberty for others mattered to them. It mattered enough to them to give their last full measure of devotion. Yet today, many care so little about the liberty of others that they’re willing to strip away their liberty because they speak words they don’t like. They think words are violence when the men who charged the beaches of Normandy actually faced real violence of the worst kind.
I often wonder if the “Greatest Generation” is bothered by what they see today- the systematic efforts to silence certain people and make their ideas illegal, and the slow inculcation of the same values that made Nazi Germany what it was. Do they ever wonder, “I fought to stop this very thing!” I guess I can’t know that.
All I can do is be thankful that they did fight, and trust the sovereign hand of God to preserve these freedoms as long as possible.