Today is the 66th anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy – D-Day – when over 176,000 American, British and Canadian army, navy and air personnel took part in the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare.
General Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, gave the following message to the troops before their departure:
Although he sounded so positive, Eisenhower was not so confident that the invasion would be successful. Before the operation began he wrote the following statement to be issued in the event of failure:
“Our landings in the Cherbourg – Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
Although the operation was a great success, with the Allies landing and securing every beachhead, it was only the beginning of an eleven month struggle to bring the war in Europe to an end – at a cost of hundreds of thousand Allied and German lives, and untold destruction.
If the horrors and losses of that great war had been enough to cure mankind of such madness, then perhaps the whole experience would have been worthwhile. Unfortunately, we have learned nothing. It is as if it never happened. We continue to elect or accept leaders who are every bit as foolhardy and reckless as those who came before them. We continue to eagerly follow or timidly acquiesce to their madness.
I wonder sometimes why we even bother to remember if we take no lessons from the horror.