June 6th was the 77th anniversary of the storming of Normandy, the Allied offensive on the north shore of France, taking the war to the Nazis on the continent, leading ultimately to their defeat. What struck me in a recent article was an excerpt from General Eisenhower’s exhortatory Order of the Day:
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade . . . . The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you . . . . Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well-equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely . . . [but] I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! . . . [L]et us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
By the time the beaches were taken, 4,415 Americans were killed while another 5,600 were either wounded or missing. All to take one coast in one phase of the war, in which, overall, upwards of 40 million died, and who knows how many wounded, scarred, bereft.