D-Day Anniversary is a time to remember the value of freedom and liberty.
On Wednesday, June 6, world leaders commemorated the 75 Anniversary of D-Day, the largest cross-water invasion in history, a momentary pause in the day’s news of tariffs and threats of tariffs, war and rumors of war, and the never-ending modern mix of political insults and name calling.
The invasion is well worth remembering, said Historian James Holland, author of “Normandy ‘44: D-Day and the Battle for France,” speaking with Robin Young of National Public Radio. Not only did it set the stage for the decades of relative peace that followed, it sidestepped even greater losses had the attempt failed.
With 10,000 dead and injured in just the first day, the casualties were staggering—but generals had planned for losing as many as 40,000 men that day, and the massive invasion succeeded in gaining a toehold in Europe and turning the tide of the war.
In 1944, Nazi Germany had occupied France and much of Europe for four years. The coasts of occupied France were well defended, and an invasion across the English Channel was an immense undertaking.
D-Day was the culmination of meticulous planning and careful coordination of logistics and strategy between nations.
Holland noted that in a war where “boots on the ground” was the primary consideration, England, France, Canada and the United States planned the invasion based on their unique strengths: Huge industrial power, huge global reach, modernity and science. “They were going to use all that, harness those resources, to fight a war which was going to be industrially heavy and mechanized,” he explained.
They started with superior aircraft and tactics, better pilots and more airplanes, the allies claiming air superiority over much of Europe prior to the invasion.
The landing itself was horrific—exactly how horrific depended where you were and when—but it was successful, giving the allies a foothold in Europe.
Had the attack failed, Holland said, a second attempt could not have been made for some time. “There would have been terrible consequences. The war in Europe would have probably have gone nuclear, that was what the Manhattan Project, the nuclear bomb, was designed for originally,” he said. He added that the rise of the Soviet Union, with the Iron Curtain and the Cold War, would have shifted much farther to the west, as well.
“It really was absolutely important for post war liberty and freedom, and the development of Europe and the world of the Democratic powers, that the invasion took place and succeeded. And thank goodness it did,” Holland said.
The success of the invasion bears testimony to the depth of the cooperation and coordination that existed between the four invading countries, Holland added. The logistics involved were “mind numbing,” he said, but they pulled it off. “They were coalition partners, not formal allies, but they pulled together, everyone toward this one goal.”
When asked about the current political climate surrounding the 75th anniversary, with growing nationalism and weakening of institutions formed after the war, like NATO, Holland said we live in troubled times.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but patterns of human behavior do,” he explained. “What you saw after the Wall Street crash and rise and the global depression in 1929 and the early 1930s is this rise of nationalism and splintering of the old political order. And what you see post 2008 is a similar thing,” he said. “Society is splintering again.”
“Anniversaries like that of D-Day help us focus our minds on what we truly value, what is important in life: And that is freedom and liberty,” he added. “We are celebrating that freedom, and it’s important we don’t forget that freedom because I tell you what, you can lose it just like that if you’re not careful.
“This anniversary should be a lesson, a warning, and a remembrance of the huge sacrifice that was made so we could have the peace we’ve had ever since.”
It’s unlikely anyone will argue that freedom and liberty are not important, or question the value and sacrifice of American troops in protecting those values.
But it’s also unlikely anyone will pay much attention to his call. We are more than happy to continue the fight over what’s wrong in America, with half the country screaming about President Trump, pointing out his caustic divisiveness, outrageous lies and nationalism, and the other half screaming about former-President Obama and the Democratic party, with its caustic divisiveness, outrageous lies and secret agendas. No surrender, no quarter and life without mercy for those we disagree with.
Sadly, the cries of such a battle easily overshadow one still, small voice of reason trying to point out the cliff we are so rapidly approaching.
Mark Gibson is editor of The Dalles Chronicle.