Hit the Beaches

At dawn, in the hard cold rain of the choppy English Channel, thousands of men-boys, really--aboard landing craft assaulted the beaches in a place called Normandy, France. They were under brutal enemy gunfire and artillery shelling.

That was the morning of June 6, 1944: D-Day. Their buddies, the paratroopers, had earlier, before dawn, landed in France and met the same stiff resistance by the enemy. The Allies were determined to free Europe from the Nazis; and after the gunfire ceased and the smoke cleared, the successful assault that day was costly.

At the top of the cliffs of Normandy, among the white crosses and glistening Stars of David, is the national cemetery of America's war dead. There are 9,387 Americans buried there. The average age is 24. They were the initial casualties of the invasion of Europe.

More Americans would later die in the great World War II. We remember those who fought on June 6 and other Americans, like my 91-year-old dad, who went to liberate France and not to conquer it. These warriors are the charter members of the Greatest Generation.

And that is just the way it is.


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