Seventy-three years ago today, the largest armada of ships ever assembled set sail across the English channel, heading for the beaches of Nazi-controlled France.
No one could tell for sure what the impending battle would bring. But one thing was sure. It would be fighting unlike the men had ever seen before. And nothing in all their training could have properly prepared them for what they were about to face.
The weather wasn't all that favorable, either. But there wasn't any other option. It was either today, or delay it once again, this time for an indefinite amount of time.
They had to go. And it had to be done now.
The Leader of the Allied Forces in Europe, Dwight Eisenhower, simply said, "let's go."
By that evening, over 209,000 of the allied troops had fallen into an eternal sleep. Never to leave the battlefield they fought on.
Before the invasion, Eisenhower had written a failure message. One that would be sent back to the brass if the operations failed. It read;
“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops,” it began.
“My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air, and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone."
By God's grace, that message never had to be delivered. The Allies were able to gain control of the beach, and began to work their way inland. It was a turning point in the war in Europe that would begin pushing the Germans back toward Germany.
But it came at a high cost. And may we never forget what this 209,000 men gave on this day that we could be free.
Never was so much owed by so many to so few.