To commemorate the 63rd anniversary of D-Day, here's a fantastic, quick little article on the subject:
[QUOTE]June 06, 2007
By Kerry Byrne
Over the past 1,000 years, only two military men have successfully crossed the English Channel. One is called the Conquerer. The other is called Eisenhower.
Maybe that's why I've been utterly fascinated by D-Day -- 63 years ago today -- ever since I was a small child. I was there, on June 6, 2004, at St. Mere Eglise, the French village liberated by American paratroopers on D-Day and immortalized in the book and movie "The Longest Day." The entire town today is a shrine to the lost, confused and heroic American boys who took the economy flight on their first trip to Europe. Monuments and markers signify the spots where many of them fell -- and many of them died. An effigy of an American paratrooper hangs from the church bell tower, a constant reminder of Pvt. John Steele, who was caught in that precarious position on the day the town was freed from the Nazis. The French have not forgotten, folks, certainly not in Normandy.
Everything about D-Day blows my mind: the organization, the creativity, the deception, the overpowering industrial might, the sheer logistics -- hell, they laid a gas pipeline under the channel to power all the tanks and trucks landing on the other side -- and, mostly, the humanity and inhumanity of it all, the horror and, yes, the heroism. I can barely juggle a few writing gigs. Eisenhower organized the largest invasion force and logistical enterprise ever assembled and ordered millions of men into battle. One historian or politician (who it was escapes me) described D-Day as the most unselfish act in the history of man. Tossing a buck to the guy panhandling outside Starbucks just doesn't compare.
Hundreds of thousands of men (and women, too) from the world's great freedom loving nations risked imminent death to breach Fortress Europe and free it from the grip of a ruthless, racist, bloodthirsty military dictatorship. (It's become trendy in recent years to compare certain American politicians to Nazis. But show me the ovens, the gas chambers or the factories where the skins of ethnic minorities are turned into lampshades and maybe we can talk. Otherwise, zip it, donkey.)
Let's not forget that Americans did not do it alone. Hardly. Citizens of the world rose from the sea and fell from the sky that day, too. Citizens of nations with whom our friendships were forged in bloodshed and in the crucible of the most trying times in humankind: our friends in the U.K., Canada and, yes, even France, a nation that suffered more than a half million dead in World War II. Dozens of other nations participated in D-Day, too. Bravery does not have political borders.
I had lunch the other day with a diplomat from the French consulate in Boston. He made a very interesting point: for all the animosity between the two countries, France is the only major European country with which the U.S. has never been at war. I'm no Francophile, but the French were there when our nation was forged and has ceded land to the U.S. so that we can honor our dead (our French cemeteries, such as the famous one at Omaha Beach, are sovereign American soil). The guest books at the cemetery are filled with moving tributes from Europeans to the dead of D-Day. Grown French men drive around the Norman countryside in American World War II Jeeps dressed as American paratroopers. As one Frenchman told me, the irresponsibly anti-American Le Monde does not speak for the French people.
The true miracle of D-Day is that the entire effort was pulled off just two and a half years after the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, an event that sent the nation reeling militarily and psychologically. Americans quickly steadied themselves, banned together and launched the greatest and most important industrial and military crusade, perhaps in human history. A mere 30 months after the humiliating blow of Pearl Harbor American industrial and military might cracked the walls of Fortress Europe. It's amazing what can be done, and how quickly it can be done, when the nation's very survival is at stake, and when the nation is united.
There's never been anything like D-Day in human history ... and, hopefully, there will never be a need for anything like D-Day again.[/QUOTE]
Truly one of the most important, daring, influential, and riskiest military endeavors that we ever took part in.