Rees Lloyd: Liberty Milestone — D-Day, June 6, 1944
D-Day at Normandy
June 6, 2014 is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. A day on which  the “citizen soldiers” of America and British and Canadian allies made and changed history by turning the tide of war against the then-victorious totalitarian imperialism of the National Socialist Workers Party (NAZI)  regime of Adolph Hitler in  Germany. Hitler had conquered all of Europe and established “Fortress Europe” on the coast. He believed it could not be breached by any invasion from the sea, no matter how great. 
Hitler underestimated how great was the love of freedom of ordinary citizen soldiers of America, Britain, and Canada,  that they would fight and give their lives  in seemingly impossible combat circumstances to defend it. On D-Day, in the most massive amphibious landing in history, some 5,000 ships carried some 175,000 troops to Normandy in one 24-hour period. There  were almost 5,000 casualties dead on the beaches that first day, some 2,000 of them Americans. Some 400,000 Americans ultimately would sacrifice their lives for freedom in WWII.


The American citizen soldiers of of D-Day were the children of the Great Depression.  Childhood for most was poverty,  most living in humble Depression conditions of deprivation  from which would be deemed appalling by contemporary standards of poverty. Their late teen and young adult years were spent in war. Most who fought in WWII were between the ages of 18 and 28. In that war, there were not one-year tours of duty. They served for the duration. Period. Many entered service at  after the Pearl Harbor Attack by Japan on December 7, 1941,  and did come home until five years later after victory in WWII. Their”college years,” so to speak, were spent in the horror of war. Hundreds of thousands never came home. Those who did come home, went to work; raised families; built the most prosperous nation in the world by their work ethic;  almost never talked about their service in war except to other veterans; and never complained about the sacrifices they made in service to the nation, and to our freedom.

Author, theologian, and recovering former progressive liberal Michael Novak, in his important book “On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding,” noted that when a national survey was done to determine what values were being held by various groups of Americans in the mid-1950’s, the researchers found that the Americans whose values were closest to those of the Founding Fathers were “the Americans who served in WWII.” 
Americans of this day are the beneficiaries of those Americans who served on D-Day and WWII. Indeed, Americans today are the children, grandchildren, great- and great great grandchildren that  the 400,000 American soldiers, sailors, marines, air force and coast guard members never had because they gave their lives on D-Day and in WWII so that Americans of that and succeeding generations could remain free.  
On D-Day, June 6, 1944,  General  Dwight David (“Ike”) Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in WWII, and principle architect of the D-Day invasion that Winston Churchill called “the most difficult and complicated operation ever to take place,” issued a history changing Order of the Day to the citizen soldiers of America:  “Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
On the 20th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1964, General Eisenhower, who had gone on to become President of the United States in 1954, returned to Normandy Beach. He said about those citizen soldiers, as quoted by Stephen Ambrose in his classic book, D-Day: The Climatic Battle of WWII:
“[I]t’s a wonderful thing to remember what those fellows twenty years ago were fighting for and sacrificing for, what they did to preserve our way of life.  Not to conquer any territory, not for any ambitions of our own. But to make sure that Hitler could not destroy freedom in the world. I think it’s just overwhelming. To think of the lives that were given for that principle, paying a terrible price on this beach alone, on that one day, 2,000 casualties. But they did it so that the world could be free.  It just shows what free men will do rather than be slaves.”
On the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1984, then President Ronald Reagan, who enlisted in the Army in WWII and proudly served in the uniform of the country he would later lead as President and Commander-in-Chief, gave perhaps the most moving, eloquent, and elegant tribute ever delivered to honor those who served in the D-Day invasion. President Reagan’s memorable D-Day tribute speech can be read or heard in its entirety at here.

The citizen soldiers of D-Day and WWII taught a great lesson about patriotism, service, sacrifice, and freedom, by what they did in the D-Day Invasion and the combat which followed until totalitarianism was defeated
Unfortunately, one place in which there will be little or nothing taught about D-Day and its meaning, is in many if not most of the public progressive liberal government-run schools.

This generation of American children is being taught less and less about America’s Founding Fathers and traditional American values, and the fact that military service and valor is what has made and kept America free from the time of the Revolutionary War to D-Day to this day in the current ongoing war against Muslim jihadist terrorism

The citizen-soldiers of D-Day and WWII are owed a great debt for preserving the freedom not only for their own generation but for succeeding generations, including our generation of Americans. We pay that debt by preserving freedom for the generations of Americans who will come after us.

Regarding that debt, General Eisenhower spoke of the service of the D-Day WWII generation as showing “what free men will do rather than be slaves.” The question on this 70th Anniversary of D-Day is: Has America, and have Americans, been so “transformed” in the progressive liberal modern era from the values of the Founding Fathers and those who served on D-Day and in WWII, that we no longer have the same “will” as they did to do what must be done to preserve freedom, including to fight and die if need be, “rather than be slaves” of modern totalitarian enemies of American freedom?

May the God the citizen-soldiers of D-Day served bless and keep them; and may the nation they served always remember them, in an attitude of heartfelt gratitude, and with the courage to do what they did to preserve American freedom.

(Rees Lloyd, a longtime California civil rights attorney and veterans activist, is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.)