In June 1944, war raged across the globe. Allied forces from the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and many other Commonwealth countries opened another front on the War against Nazi Germany. Allied forces had already recaptured Saharan Africa, Sicily, and liberated Rome on June 4, 1944. Meanwhile in the Pacific, allied forces were already underway for an amphibious landing in the Mariana Islands of Saipan and Guam to begin June 13th. In midst of all this came the most remembered of the days in this single month of June 1944. Today we remember the Allied landings on the beaches of France.
The veterans of D-Day who survived the landing and the war, are passing into God’s bright glory, as these 77 years as passed by since they served their country. The last two years of pandemic and travel restrictions have muted the celebrations. This year only one US veteran was present at celebrations at the Normandy American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer. Charles Shay, who now lives in Normandy, was a 19-year-old U.S. Army medic when he landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Today, he recalls the “many good friends” he lost on the battlefield. Under a bright sun, the 96-year-old Penobscot Native American from Indian Island, Maine, stood steadily while the hymns of the Allied countries were played Friday in front of the monument commemorating those days from so long ago.
On D-Day itself, more than 150,000 Allied troops landed on beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats. The Battle of Normandy hastened Germany’s defeat, which came less than a year later. Still, that single day cost the lives of 4,414 Allied troops, 2,501 of them Americans. More than 5,000 were injured.
We pause to remember this day and this momentous month of a long ago time.