Editorial: Tragedy, triumph, freedom

Jun. 05, 2014 @ 03:05 PM

Grainy black and white reels of film roll. Teenagers are among the Allied troops who burst onto the beaches of France, in the Normandy region.

They did so after hearing these words from their commander, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower:

“Soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

“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! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. 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 blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

More than 4,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives 70 years ago in what is remembered as D-Day. The Germans were caught by surprise, confused in their response and crippled by mistrust among their leadership around Adolf Hitler.

Six years of war ended the following spring with Hitler’s suicide, more than 50 million military and civilian deaths, and the defeat of Nazi Germany and Japan.

We can’t imagine the horrors faced that day or throughout World War II. These are courageous heroes to be hailed.

Today, we remember and offer sincere thanks.