Seventy years ago this morning, thousands upon thousands of Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen attacked the Nazi defenses on the beaches of Normandy. They called it Operation Overlord, and no one involved was certain it could succeed. The weather had been lousy. The Allied track record with beach landings was far from stellar. And no one was sure if the Axis powers knew where the Allies were planning to land, or if they'd been fooled by all the misinformation the Allies had been sending their way.
Seventy years later, of course, we know they succeeded. Despite the bad weather, despite snags like one entire landing force hitting the wrong beach, despite terrifyingly high casualties at other beaches, the Allies were not swept back out to sea by the Nazis. They landed, they stayed, they fought their way inland, and the war... was not won that day. But the proverbial Shakespearean worm had turned that day, and victory in the European Theater of Operations was not long in coming.
This might be weird to say, but I'm very fond of the D-Day invasion. I love learning about it, and one of my great dreams is to someday visit the five beaches where the Allies landed. The best book I've read about the invasion as a whole is still The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan, and I love the movie that's based on it. I also love a much less well-known movie called D-Day: The Sixth of June which follows three people whose lives are caught up in the preparation for the invasion. I used to watch one or the other every year on the anniversary, though lately I haven't had time to watch either one, and usually make do with the pilot episode of Combat!, "A Day in June," which also revolves around the invasion.
This is me at the WWII memorial in Washington, DC a few years ago, standing above the section that honors those who participated in D-Day. I couldn't physically be present there today, or on the beaches of Normandy, to honor those who fought there, both those who lived and those who died. But I honor them by remembering their sacrifice, their courage, their achievements. I hope you do too.