My son is 17. As a family we are enjoying this long Memorial Day weekend. My son spent some time at work on Friday and Saturday, went to a BBQ with our cousins yesterday and today is reveling in the ability to sleep in. Since we live in the suburbs of Dallas in the year 2017, we get to rest and enjoy our weekend. We can relax this weekend because of others that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.
If this were the year 1944, I have a feeling our weekend would have been very different. There’s a good chance that instead of a long, relaxing weekend, my son would have been preparing to go to war. And we would have been dealing with rationing, war bonds, and the loss of friends and family overseas. While we are coordinating who’s bringing the potato salad, the families in 1944 were occupied with the war effort, riveting planes together, producing ammunition, participating in air raid drills and even learning how to make cakes without conventional sugar. If this were 1944, instead of being able to hug my son this morning, I may have been on my knees praying for his safety as he prepared to enter the battle. Needless to say, I am grateful to be writing this on a sunny day in 2017.
In just a little less than a week it will be the 73rd anniversary of D-Day. The number of troops that ascended upon the shores of Europe that day is nearly unfathomable. I pulled this quote from a UK D-Day Museum webpage: “Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy. This figure includes over 209,000 Allied casualties, with nearly 37,000 dead amongst the ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths amongst the Allied air forces.”
Nearly 54,000 died that day, or in the subsequent days of the battle, between the Allied ground and air forces. 54,000 individuals paid the ultimate price to safeguard the freedom of their fellow countrymen. Not just for the generation they came from, but for the generations yet to come. They sacrificed their very lives for you, me, and every other individual that lives in the free world. Today is the day we honor them and all the other men and women that have died protecting the freedom we enjoy in this great nation we call home.
On Normandy Beach alone the death count was estimated to be about 9000. I ran across a project that commemorated the 70th Anniversary of D-Day by filling the beach at Normandy with 9000 drawings in the sand of our fallen troops. You can find an article about it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/27/fallen-9000-sand-stencils-dday_n_4003959.html
A few images from Normandy Beach in 1944 and in 2014
And these are just the numbers from one battle in one war. Imagine what the count must be after nearly 250 years of freedom. Even to this day we are losing soldiers overseas to maintain the freedom we so often take for granted. Without the deaths of those brave men and women, freedom would be but a dream, instead of the reality we live in.
As I prepare to go to yet another gathering with friends, I felt it was important to take just a few minutes out of my day to honor those that made today possible. There is no way to repay the debt we owe the fallen, but we can at least stop for a moment to think about the sacrifices that have been made, and that continue to be made around the world, for the freedom we so readily enjoy.
May we never forget we are the “Home of the Free, BECAUSE of the Brave.”