Both my grandparents served in the military during World War II. My maternal grandfather served in the U.S. Army, and he’d tell relatives about having to fight against cousins who were fighting for Nazi Germany. My paternal grandfather was an Army cook. While he mostly stayed stateside during the war, he too contributed greatly to the war effort. They were not in Normandy (in northern France) on June 6, 1944, but many of their fellow U.S. soldiers were, along with troops from the U.K., Canada, Australia, Czechosolvakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia), France, Norway, and Poland.
75 years ago today, the Allied Forces launched what was then the largest seaborne invasion in history. 156,000 Allied soldiers and 195,700 naval personnel contributed to what we now refer to as D-Day, or the initial landing at Omaha Beach that led to the Allied Forces’ liberation of France later that summer, then the Nazis’ surrender and eventual end of the war in 1945.
Today is a day for us to remember those who sacrificed so much, and ultimately laid it all on the line. Because of their sacrifice, we’re here now. And while we obviously have plenty of our own challenges to overcome, we can look to those in the “Greatest Generation” who fought to take down the forces of fascism then as we figure out how to defeat the forces of fascism, bigotry, and authoritarianism in our time.