D-Day — Don't Let the Memories Die
by Randy Rawls
Today is D-Day, June 6th, the sixty-ninth anniversary of the allied invasion of occupied France. 156,000 troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Free France, and Norway participated—one of the largest invasion forces in history. They hit a 50-mile stretch along the Normandy coast. The beaches we've heard the most about are Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. It was Omaha that claimed the most Allied casualties.
However, our troops didn't wade ashore unsupported. Five thousand ships participated, accompanied by fifty thousand vehicles and eleven thousand planes—the largest seaborne invasion in history. Casualties were horrendous—6,603 US troops wounded (1,465 killed), 2,700 UK troops wounded, 1,074 Canadian troops wounded (359 killed). Germany's losses are estimated to have been between 4,000 and 9,000.
The history of one of those ships is quite interesting. The USS Nevada was moored at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It was the only battleship to break out, even though heavily damaged. After repairs, it supported the invasions of Iowa Jima and Okinawa. It also played a key role in naval gun support of the D Day invasion.
There have been many books written about the invasion, many movies made. Yet, I suspect numerous acts of heroism have gone untold. Many fascinating anecdotes are being lost. With the death of each of our veterans, we lose a national treasure. It won't be long before all of them are gone.
I wonder how today will be honored across the country. Based on what I see on other national holidays, I expect it to pass quietly in my neighborhood. Less than ten percent of the houses will display flags. What a shame. Please put your flag out and let the world know you remember.
If you know a WWII veteran, thank him/her for what she/he did. And, if you're fortunate enough to know one of those who survived D Day, make an extra effort to say something nice. Visit a National Cemetery and pay your respects to all the veterans buried there. Thank them for what they and their compatriots did.
The following is from the website of the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville sur Mer (http://battlefieldsww2.50megs.com/normandy_american_cemetery.htm).
At the conclusion of the fighting in Normandy, there were more than ten American cemeteries on the battlefield, with hundreds of small burial grounds and isolated graves. The American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) repatriated at least 60% of these burials back to the United States, and concentrated the remaining casualties into two main cemeteries; one here in Normandy and another in Britanny.
To a size of 172.5 acres, the Normandy American Cemetery has 9,387 burials of US service men and women. Of this number, some 307 are unknowns, three are Medal of Honor winners, and four are women. In addition, there are 33 pairs of brothers buried side by side. It is the largest American Cemetery from WW2, but not the largest in Europe: that is the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery from WW1 with more than 14,000 burials.
Don't let the memories die.