THERE will be ceremonies, speeches and a lot of remembering today as the world pauses to recall the 70th anniverary of D-Day when the allies landed on the beaches of Normandy and the battle began to free Europe from Nazi tyranny.
What an invasion it was.
It was called the largest invasion force ever assembled. Many boys from the Ohio Valley participated in that gigantic battle. One from St. Clairsville was in the first wave and a Bridgeport soldier lost his life when the troops hit the beaches.
Ernie Pyle, a famous World War II correspondent wrote about the epic invasion. Twelve days after it started, he said he took a walk along the seashore. “Men were sleeping on the sand and some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water. They didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.
“And standing out there beyond all that wreckage was the greatest armada man has ever seen. You simply could not believe the giantic collection of ships that lay out there waiting to unload.”
There will be a lot of visits today to Normandy by aging veterans. President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, French President Francois Holande and many Germans will join those veterans who fought to liberate Normandy from Nazi occupation. No doubt, many prayers will be said at the Normandy American Cemetery in France. A German soldier plans to be in Normandy for the ceremonies. He said he was glad he was sent to Normandy and ended up in American hands rather than being sent by the Nazis to fight on the eastern front where the fighting was fierce and many of his comrades were killed. He said he had a Guardian Angel.
The invasion was a risky one because of the uncertainty of the weather. Even Germany was surprised that the allies had chosen Normandy as the invasion site.
Everyone was excited that the invasion had started. Many boys from the little towns in Belmont County were in the army and everyone was concerned because they didn’t know if their family member was in the invasion force. People began to pray for the success of the invasion and for the safety of the troops.
That invasion marked the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe. It was 11 months later when Germany unconditionally surrendered.
During those 11 months, many major battles were waged on land, sea and in the air. And many boys lost their lives in the invasion of Sicily, the battles for Italy and France and the ultimate invasion of Germany.
And near the end of the war, there was one of the most titanic battles of all time, the Battle of the Bulge.
Let us forever remember and be grateful for the sacrifices of those who participated in the D-Day invasion, and especially remember in prayer those who lost their lives.
A U. S. Congressman said, “We must never forget the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans. They are truly America’s heroes.”