Friday, June 5, 2009

Operation Overlord

Tomorrow marks the 65th anniversary of the Allied invasion of the European continent. Known as Operation Overlord, most refer to it now at D-Day. As I reflect on the sheer scope and magnatude of the operation, involving over 160,000 soldiers and 4,000 ships, I can't help but think of how those young men felt rushing toward France before dawn, bobbing up and down. Those brave soldiers and marines knew what was waiting for them on those cliffs. They had been getting intelligence updates for weeks and months. But, they went anyway.

A few probably longed for glory, others for the thrill but most went because they were told to and it was their duty. They went because the alternatives were worse; both personally and globally. I am pretty sure that not many (if any at all) knew just how horrific the Thrid Reich had become, but I believe that most felt called to action. And so they went.

Ramps dropped on beaches across northern France right at dawn with many never making it out of their boats. They pressed on; first to the shore and across the beach. The confusion must have been overwhelming. Germans surely knew they were in for it and were bringing all they had to bear down on the sand below.

Soldiers were flooding the beaches. Others were jumping from aircraft utilizting a 'new' tactic called 'airborne operations'. Together they established a foothold. And so they went, marching into they history books.

Today, we use D-Day as a cliche for the start of something. I've heard it in business and in sports. Those that use it, I feel, don't really have an appreciation for what D-Day truly was; comparing a project deadline with a day that change the course of world history. Ronald Reagan called it a "giant undertaking; unparalleled in human history."

Sixty-five years ago at this moment, young men were checking their gear, boarding boats and studying their maps. Those warriors executed violently and swiftly. They launched on D-Day and what they did was prevent any D-Day since.

God Bless those soldiers.

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