*In the highest remembrance of our fallen heroes!*
Today, 68 years ago was one of the most heroic days in history, the infamous D-Day invasion in Normandy. On June 6, 1944, Allied troops planned an attack to regain Nazi-occupied France. This invasion was one of the biggest turning points during WW2 and resulted in the loss of an estimated 10,000 Allied soldiers.
If you've seen the D-Day invasion scene in Saving Private Ryan, it's unimaginable to think what it was really like on D-Day. The task of invading bullet-ridden Northern France seemed like almost certain death. I'm sure a Hollywood movie can't even fully capture the terror that soldiers faced on D-Day. It wasn't just the Germans that soldiers had to fear, but the weight of heavy gear meant that in some cases soldiers drowned before they reached the beaches. And once they reached the beaches, the sand was riddled with bodies, metal traps and barriers, barbed wire, almost nowhere to hide and the enemy shooting right at them. Some soldiers were so young, with their whole lives ahead of them, both forced and volunteered to face unthinkable circumstances worlds away from their families and safety of their hometowns.
My parents (especially my mom) have been itching to see Normandy for years and I'm so happy I had the opportunity--and honor--to visit Normandy with them a few weeks ago. During the days that we visited Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, Longues-sur-Mer battery and machine guns and the infamous American Cemetery, my mom (originally from a small town in South Dakota) recounted research she had done on plenty of WW2 veterans who fought so bravely. My mom tracked down several soldiers from her hometown in Beresford, South Dakota, and found their graves at the American Cemetery in Normandy to pay her respects (one of them was killed by a German sniper)--I know this is why she's fascinated with WW2.
It was pretty amazing when she told me that both my great uncle (fought in the heart of Normandy) and my step-grandfather (an air bomber) fought in Normandy. Both of them would never talk about their experiences during WW2--ever, she said. Some museums we visited in Normandy had real-life accounts of grown men who were brought to tears instantly when remembering their days in the war and recalled their comrades who died fighting right next to them while they were just plain lucky to make it out alive.
It was emotional and incredible to visit the D-Day beaches of Normandy. I am forever grateful to those paid the ultimate price (and still do!) to make sure we have the freedoms we have today.
Your sacrifices will never be forgotten.