Seventy-one years ago this AM members of an “allied expeditionary force” walked, swam, and struggled to shore on the beaches at Normandy, France, under withering machine-gun fire, while others parachuted from an armada of aircraft onto farmlands, and roads, into hedgerows, and trees, as the great deciding salvo was launched to extricate Europe from occupation by the brutal, demonic Nazi death cult.
Many died before they ever hit sand or soil. Many drowned; others were killed in their landing craft. But ultimately the relentless assault of the American-led effort on the Western front and the Russian army on the Eastern was successful and Europe was liberated.
It has been my privilege to have counted as a friend one D-Day veteran, now deceased. He met General Eisenhower on his ship the day before the attack. From of all the sailors Ike shook the young sailor’s hand and asked if he’d like to help him back at the office. My friend, Don, demurred saying he had better remain with the ship.
Don told me about standing on the back of the ship as they crossed the channel, praying that God would act. His would have been no foxhole prayer, or prayer “to the unknown God.” Even as a young man he had a vibrant faith in Jesus that would never fail even until death.
Don was not one of the men who stormed the beaches. Don’s ship sent a storm to the beach, firing shell after shell toward the entrenched Nazis.
A multitude of men and women were involved in the planning, implementation and carrying out of the D-Day invasion. If there is a picture any more valorous than knowingly yet without hesitation entering a war zone under total control of an enemy force I do not know of it. Yet, they did.
When the phrase “sending our boys into battle” is used it is typically more literal than is meant. These were a great mass of boys. The average age of American infantry is speculated to have been between 18-20. This British paratrooper was only 16 when he dropped into Normandy having lied his way into the service at the age of fourteen. He was killed that July. Seventeen-year-old Joseph Argenzio, Jr., was the youngest American in the invasion, having changed the age on his birth certificate and his baptismal certificate to join the Army. Argenzio survived the war, dying in 2010. There were many more boys among them. War is a meat grinder of the young.
D-Day should be remembered always. I pray there be no need for another.