Remembering D-Day’s impact on world freedom

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 6, 2009


I suppose it is fitting that Memorial Day and June 6 are so close together. Memorial Day, after all, is the day when we pay honor to our fallen military and June 6 is the anniversary of D-Day, when so many of them fell.

D-Day, known to those men heading into battle as Operation Overlord, was the time when things started to go downhill for Adolph Hitler and his Nazi Party.

It was 65 years ago today and the operation was the largest single-day amphibious invasion of all time, with 160,000 troops making landfall. There were another 195,700 Allied naval and merchant marine personnel in over 5,000 landing craft involved.

I’ve read a number of books on the operation, but as much as I enjoy the historical account, I can never get enough of The Longest Day.

I was 12 years old when my cousins, Dudley and Don, and I went to a Saturday matinee showing at The Saenger in Hattiesburg, Miss. I’ve watched it dozens of times since then … and the good guys always win.

There aren’t many of those good guys left … the guys who spent days on boats of all sizes, ships, LSTs and the like in the English Channel before hitting the frigid water under heavy German fire.

They landed on beaches that carried names like Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword and thousands of them never came back. Almost 9,400 Americans — 307 of them unknowns — are buried there.

Those were the military names given to those beaches — but the names remain on maps and signposts yet today.

The French remain so moved today that thousands of them gathered at Normandy several hours ago to pay homage to those fallen Allies who began the fight to save Europe and, eventually, the world.

So today, your political preference makes little difference and, despite what our President says, America is very much a Christian nation. With those thoughts in mind, give thanks to those who fought the fight … considering that even the youngsters among them would now be 82 or 83 years old … thank the Lord that there were those who fought the fight so we can grumble and grouse and bitch and moan today.

There are a number of activities today and tomorrow at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, including a special presentation on the Higgins boats — built in New Orleans and the vehicle that helped deliver freedom to the world.

And if you go, be reverent with that old gentleman there in some form of his uniform. After all, he helped delivered freedom for the world.

(John H. Walker is editor and publisher of L’Observateur and c an be reached at 732-2565 or