This was my message at our 75th Anniversary observance with Army, Air Force, and Navy personnel at Warrior Transition Program.
It’s not surprise to you why we’re here today: to remember what happened on the shores of Normandy, France – not too far from here – 75 years ago. People, like you and I, who found themselves in an extraordinary place during an extraordinary time in our world’s history.
You can only imagine what that day was like. I want to share General Eisenhower’s words to the troops before battle that day:
“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely…..I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
It was not an easy task. In fact, I wonder if most of us think if we could do what those men did so long ago.
Here we are, some of us deployed, others returning from deployment. And those deployments weren’t necessarily combat related. We’re in this weird peace time/sustained military operations place right now. But at a moment’s notice, we could be called to the same task as those men who charged the shores of Normandy 75 years ago.
What compels a man, or woman, to do such a thing?
“Keep alert, stand firm in faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
This passage from 1 Corinthians in the Bible might reflect why. The soldiers who stormed the beaches at Normandy so courageously, with strength, perhaps, because they did so in love.
They knew what they were fighting for: things they loved. The ideals. The people. A nation. The idea that all people should be free.
Remembrances such as D-Day are as much about the present as they are about the past. D-Day is about us, and while war might feel so far from us, at a moment’s notice, we could be called upon, just as the soldiers of Normandy were called upon. D-Day is about us: keep alert. Be ready. The world we live in is not safe and there are people who’s lives are different from ours. I’m not talking about cultural differences. I’m talking about women, children, and men who live lives in fear of tyranny and oppression, who are not free. We may be called upon…..
And in order to be ready, and to answer the call with courage and strength, we need to draw on the things we love as well. I’m willing to bet that as those AAVs came ashore, as the door were about to open, those men were able to storm the beaches of Normandy because they were thinking – no they were firm – in what they loved. Recalling what they loved, these men did extraordinary things in an extraordinary moment in time.
So let us be ready. Let us stand firm. And as we remember what happened 75 years ago – let us recall each day what each of us loves so deeply.