As I write this (though probably not as you read it — it’s getting late) it’s June 6. On this date in 1945 over 150,000 Americans, Britons, and Canadians, members of the Allied Expeditionary Force, stormed the coast of Normandy to begin the liberation of Nazi-dominated Europe. It was the largest amphibious invasion ever attempted, and the men who participated in it — thousands of whom were killed, many before they were even able to step off of their landing craft onto the beaches — saved the world.
They saved the world.
It’s a shame that our species considers huge numbers of us killing each other to be so necessary to saving the world, but there doesn’t seem to be any getting around it.
D-Day was a pivotal moment in human history. When you think about it, there haven’t been too many of those. Taming fire, inventing the wheel, learning to speak to one another — those are pretty important moments, assuming you can pin them down to a single day. The first moon landing — that was a big one (and that anniversary’s coming up, too!). There are lots more, but D-Day’s got to be on that list. It was a pretty big day. And it wasn’t all that long ago, relatively speaking.
Sixty-five years have gone by since then. That’s almost 24,000 days. They haven’t all been good days. Not by a long shot. A few have been better for some than for others. But I know this: millions and millions and millions have lived without the weight of fascism pressing down on their chests because of what those 150,000 did on the coast of France on June 6, 1945. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I’m no flag-waver. But I think D-Day transcended nationalism. It wasn’t an American accomplishment, or a British one, or a French one. It was something for which we, the children and grandchildren of the men storming those beaches, can all be grateful.
If that’s not saving the world, I don’t know what you call it.