It is difficult to overemphasize the world-changing events that hung in the balance on June 5, 1944. Operation Overlord, the military operation launched against Nazi forces in Normandy, had been postponed a number of times, due to inadequate landing craft and even the weather. In the early hours of June 5, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, Dwight D. Eisenhower, said “Let’s go.”
This decision was made in the face of more uncertain weather and doubt among some of his senior command that critical Airborne troops—deployed to secure inland areas so that our soldiers could get off the beaches—would survive the assault. The unstable weather conditions would play an outsized role in their necessary success.
History was made the day of the invasion—June 6, 1944. On this anniversary, we are humbled in the memory of those who successfully secured the beachhead in Normandy seventy-six years ago, and went on to liberate Europe. The sacrifices were countless, the heroism legendary, and the courage and tenacity of leadership indispensable.
Although the on-site commemorations in Normandy have been canceled this year due to the pandemic, my thoughts—and those of all Americans and their Allies—turn again to that titanic struggle to rid the world of Nazi oppression. Here is a link to my comments, in a short film produced by the American Embassy in France:
This time last year, in addition to the memorable commemorations in the American sector, I had the enormous honor of crossing the English channel with Henry Montgomery, the grandson of Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery, commander of land forces on D-Day, and nearly forty British veterans of the landings.
The 75th anniversary was an occasion to be remembered, but it will not be the last time thousands of people go to the Normandy coast to stand in silent gratitude.