June 6, 1944, has now been 74 years ago and the accomplishments, valor, bravery, and determination of those who lived is still a shining example of courage against tyranny to the world. June 6, 1944, is called “D-Day” by most historians, but it could just as easily be called a “Unified Day.” In the United States, we tend to think of our brave men storming ashore under the constant gunfire with tracer bullets zipping past them, tearing into, and for some ending them before they could even reach the beach. It’s a day of honor because these men went in knowing the worst was waiting for them. Many of them had fought in Africa and other places around the world. They knew that Nazi Germany was not simply going to roll out a welcome rug and open their doors. No, the soldiers waiting on the beach had no intention of simply allowing the allies to come ashore untouched. Americans stormed in, and Americans died. But while we tend to see pictures in our mind of the heroic Americans, we sometimes forget that this was the day the world truly came together.
Across the landing places of D-Day, the nations joined forces to go against the greatest evil threat the world had ever known. They came as forces from governments in exile such as the Dutch Government, the Norwegian government, Free Czechoslovak forces, Free Luxembourgish forces, free Belgian forces, Free France, the Greek government, and even the Polish armed forces in the west converged on the beaches that day. They came without homes because the Nazis had taken those homes. They came to free their homes, free their families and in some cases to avenge the losses of their homes and families. Some of them would never return to their homelands as they once had been, but on June 6, 1944, that did not matter. What mattered was beating the Nazis back, forcing them back to Berlin and retaking each beach, farmland, forest, city, town, hamlet, and home the Nazi’s had so brutally taken.
While the forces of the exiled and lost nations took to the beaches, they were joined by the countries that had allied themselves with the United States. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all sent men to the beaches. These men went not because their homelands had been taken, but because they knew that with the Nazi goal of world domination they would be next. The United Kingdom itself had watched as thousands of their civilians had been slaughtered by the Nazi air raids. Defiant to the last, the Kingdom served as the launching point for the invasion, a logical choice, but certainly one that would have brought harsh repercussions had the allies failed on that day.
Together, thirteen nations swarmed the beaches on D-Day. Thousands would die in the water, on the beaches, and from wounds received on that day and the following days. The ones that made it through would push to take bunkers and reach toward the troops dropped behind the lines to join them. The world, on this day 74 years ago, would collectively hold its breath as the largest invasion of all time started. In the end, a sigh of relief would be let out as we all held the beach together.
Today all around the world the nations that participated in D-Day are reaching a point where their heroes are dying. The ones who survived that day have told their stories, recorded their history, lived their lives, and have reached an age where man’s body, no matter how great a hero it was, eventually starts to give out. They are leaving us more and more rapidly and somewhere in the next ten years, we will find ourselves without them. They will have faded to the history books, as all wars and all warriors do, but we should not forget them or what this day meant. For that matter, the entire world should not forget them. This is not simply a day to remember the heroes of the United States. It is a day to remember the heroes of the world. From countries around the world, they came together with one hope of defeating tyranny. Men, women, and children contributed from gathering metals, to building planes and ships, to making guns and ammunition, and the entire world worked together for one common cause. Their cause became not just the United Kingdom’s cause or the United States’ cause, it became the entire free world’s cause. No matter what we face today with potential trade wars, economic concerns, and other global differences, we should always remember and look back to June 6, 1944. We must remember that when the world faced its greatest threat, economic, trade, and other global differences did not matter. We can, and should all work together because the greatest generation, the generation that stopped the Nazi forces, taught us that when we set aside our global differences, we can accomplish anything. Let us try not to let that lesson from June 6, 1944, as our world moves forward into each new year.
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