Here is Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight David Eisenhower's message upon the commencement of the invasion:
"Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope 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 this is the year 1944! The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."
About 2500 Americans died in the invasion on June 6 alone.
During World War II, the United States lost over 400,000 soldiers, and, of course, many thousands more men and women suffered grievous injuries.
We shouldn't need "special" anniversaries to recall – and to embed deep in our common memory – all those American soldiers who have given their lives defending freedom and liberty here at home and abroad.
In his Farewell Address, speaking of D-Day, Ronald Reagan said this: "If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I am warning of an eradication of that - of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit."
So, on this Memorial Day of this 75
anniversary of D-Day, all Americans, regardless of race, creed, sex, or political affiliation, should pause to remember those who paid the ultimate price to preserve our freedom to speak freely and pray – or not – as we wish.
And, on this Memorial Day, if we do remember, perhaps we will be more likely to appreciate, even embrace, those ideals that we share in common as Americans and that should bind us together. And be less likely to cast stones on the day after.
As Cicero put it over two thousand years ago: “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”
I wish you and your family the best for a safe, happy, and meaningful Memorial Day!
PS – My past Memorial Day messages are here: