“We will accept nothing less than full victory,” General Dwight D Eisenhower said, and the future president saw the crusade through to the very end. On June 6th, 1944, over a hundred thousand Allied troops faced the Nazi’s occupying France on the shore of Normandy. Over 9,000 Allied men lost their lives in the battle from June to August, but their sacrifice allowed a hundred thousand Allies to make their way into Europe and begin the defeat of Hitler’s troops.

Codename Operation Overlord, which we affectionately calling storming the beaches of Normandy, is considered one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history. D-Day and the following Normandy landings are called the end of the war in Europe, something that could not come fast enough for the people imprisoned under Nazi rule.

The memory of D-Day and the Normandy landings are remembered in the Normandy American Cemetery, which was the first U.S. cemetery in Europe during WWII. It served as the burial site for more than 9,300 U.S. servicemen who died on D-Day and in the following missions.

After months of deception that had convinced the Germans that the Allies were going to attack Pas-de-Calais, the amphibious assault on Normandy began on the morning of June 6th. Canadian and British troops quickly took beaches codenamed Sword, Juno, and Gold, and the Americans took Utah Beach. Unfortunately, Omaha Beach proved more difficult to take, and over 2,000 American casualties resulted before over 150,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy.

On June 6th, 2001, President George W Bush dedicated the National D-Day Memorial, located in Bedford, Virginia. In his dedication speech, President Bush truly captured how we feel about D-Day event today. “Fifty-seven years ago, America and the nations of Europe formed a bond that has never been broken. And all of us incurred a debt that can never be repaid. Today, as America dedicates our D-Day Memorial, we pray that our country will always be worthy of the courage that delivered us from evil and saved the free world.” Over 55,000 visitors are awed by the memorial each year, which includes a forty-four foot tall arch with the name Overlord on it, commemorating the code name given to the operation and its year.

D-Day may seem so long ago, and it truly was, having been over 70 years in the past, long before any of us were born, and for some, before our grandparents were born. However, reminders of D-Day and the Normandy landings carry on today in more than the calendar day designated to remember it by. Just last week, John E. Anderson, a motor machinist mate who loved his life on D-Day, yes, way back in 1944, was just laid to rest in his Minnesota hometown. This homecoming was thanks in large part to a nephew, retired professor Don Franklin who spent years seeking out his “cheery” uncle and the body that was never brought home.  Back in 1944, his family had been told that his remains had been washed out to sea after the destruction of an engine room while Anderson was inside. However, his family never gave up hope. With the help of family, friends, and kind strangers, they were able to conduct DNA testing to confirm Anderson’s identity and, after being denied twice, were finally able to bring from home from the Cemetery. His burial in his hometown included a 21-gun salute and ended with the singing of “American the Beautiful.”

The story of John E Anderson reminds us all why it is so important to remember dates like June 6th and teach our children about the sacrifices men and women have made throughout the history of our country to allow us to be here today.

Spend today remembering the lives lost in the D-Day invasion, but also being grateful for the courage of those men who gave it all so that we could be as free as we are today.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member