Today marks a turning point in the history of the world, when thousands of young men fought to free Europe from the clutches of a madman named Adolf Hitler, who wanted to create a German "master race," while castigating the Jewish people as the root of all the ills of the world. He envisioned a great Germany built of, by and for the power and glory of the German state.
By the end of the day on June 6, 1944, the ultimate sacrifice was paid by 9,000 Allied soldiers, killed or wounded on the beaches of Normandy, France. By their sacrifice a great army of more than 100,000 men were able to climb the beachfront cliffs into France and begin a long slog to defeating Hitler, the Nazis and the Axis powers.
After being pent-up in England's staging areas for days, many aboard ships, the order to go on the morning of June 6 was given. More than 5,000 ships took their fighting human cargo to within eyesight of the German garrisons, and the carnage began. They had the support of more than 13,000 aircraft, including brave parachutists and gliders filled with troops seeking to land behind the enemy's front lines.
It was best summed up by Allied commander and future president, Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower in his letter to the troops:
"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," wrote Eisenhower in the first few paragraphs.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's prayer to the nation as the invasion began is worth reading, both for its poignancy and its expression of a willingness by a U.S. president to invoke the assistance of God and to ask the American people to do so, without apology or political impact in mind.
Roosevelt said, in part, "Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
"They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
"For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home."
Roosevelt was unafraid to ask for God's divine help and guidance, and we support U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson's call to have the full prayer added to the World War II memorial. It is fitting, because there are no gray areas of political correctness in war. Or at least there shouldn't be.
D-Day was the last time the free world was united in its cause, that there was no gray area. There were evil and good, freedom and tyranny, democracy and world domination. We must remember that sacrifice and effort mean victory for a cause that is just.