By: Robert Scott
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of TheAdvertiser.
We Americans are the fortunate heirs of geography and of heroism. Between the two, we have been spared the presence of war on our soil since the Civil War. There have been terrorist acts – the so-called War on Terror began in 2001 with the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. – but actual warfare, with the presence of armed forces fighting against one another against a backdrop of American towns and cities, is a scenario from which we have been spared. Geography – that we are protected from potential invading forces by thousands of miles of open ocean – can claim only part of the credit. The heroes of the Navy who protect our shores but also the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have made certain that when we do go into battle, we do so “over there” and not “over here.” We have learned how to project military power onto towns and cities “over there” and to do so with devastating effect.
This week marks the 75thanniversary of the largest military projection of power in history: the D-Day invasion that ultimately took World War II to Nazi Germany. The scale of that assault is mind boggling. On the first day of the fighting in Normandy on June 6, 1944, a total of 156,000 American and allied forces landed ashore, including 24,000 airborne troops. The rest landed across defended beaches, a process that any military veteran will attest always favors the defenders. Allied casualties that day numbered around 10,000, including 4,414 confirmed dead; the German defenders lost about half that number. For comparison, the allied armies in the Gulf War totaled almost one million – roughly seven times the D-Day invasion force – and experienced around 300 deaths. Every casualty of war is a tragedy, but soldiers in the Iraq War ran less than two percent of the chance of being killed compared to our forces in Normandy on D-Day. Many who died during D-Day would, if their fighting had been in this century, have come home alive but with their bodies and minds scarred by the fighting they experienced.
As a nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to those of “The Greatest Generation” who landed on the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago this week, a debt that can never be paid in full. Their heroism, still reflected in today’s American armed forces, proved up to the task of defeating an enemy “over there” in order to keep the violence of aggression and war away from our own shores. The debt we owe to our heroes must be paid by the rest of us, by taking care of our military brothers and sisters once they come home.
I hope that every one of us remembers and honors that debt when we consider how we support veterans, the Veterans’ Administration, VA hospitals, and those who were disabled in the service of our country. The legacy of D-Day is one of sacrifice for the cause of our country. We all need to honor and to help repay that legacy today. We should always ask candidates for office, whether state or federal, whether they consider that we are doing enough for our veterans. If they answer “no,” then ask what they will do to fix that, if elected or re-elected. That should be our response as Americans today, on D-Day plus 75 years.