LOOKING BACK: D-Day editorial from June 6, 1944

U.S. Coast Guard via AP, File In this June 8, 1944, file photo, under heavy German machine gun fire, American infantrymen wade ashore off the ramp of a Coast Guard landing craft during the invasion of the French coast of Normandy in World War II. June 6, marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the assault that began the liberation of France and Europe from German occupation, leading to the end World War II.

As the waves crashed onto the shores, American soldiers stormed beaches at Normandy, France, as the Nazis knocked at the door of the United Kingdom.

Seventy-five years ago on June 6, soldiers landed on Normandy Beach with tank and air support as D-Day marked the beginning of the end of World War II and the Nazi regime.

The Allies worked together to invade the Omaha, Juno, Utah, Gold and Sword beaches and push the war front back. As over 150,000 troops continued to liberate Europe, it was not until August when they reached Paris. Then in April, the Russians and Western Front allies met in Berlin.

D-Day was the beginning of a liberation and has since been portrayed in war films like “Saving Private Ryan.” While it seems as though this historical moment occurred long ago, and for the younger members of society something we learned in history class, the efforts of those soldiers forever changed the livelihoods of countries and the world. Soldiers fought for our freedom as politically charged rulers sought to destroy them.

While several veterans have been laid to rest, some of these veterans still walk among us. On this 75th anniversary of D-Day, it’s important to reflect on the significance of the day, the sacrifices veterans and their families made for our country and the grit Americans have to overcome seemly insurmountable odds for the betterment of their country.

With three-quarters of a century passed since the events unfolded on D-Day, it is important to preserve the facts of those efforts. Museums, war memorials and documentaries are all pieces of the puzzle in preserving the intricacies of the D-Day operations, but the breadth and senses on the battle front are best understood by listening to the trials of veterans who were there. As these veterans continue to age, seeking out those stories is more important than ever. Listening to their experiences and documenting those stories not only provides a fresh perspective on the war, but also shows the human element of struggle and perseverance as well as camaraderie.

Veterans vowed to sacrifice their freedoms, and some their lives, on behalf of a greater cause. By listening to their stories, we see the strength of the American spirit to rise above conflict and become better as a nation. Without recognizing the significance of the D-Day invasions, we neglect our country as a beacon of freedom and as a place of hope and possibility. Acting as if June 6, 1944, was just another day ignores the efforts of troops to stop the Axis Powers. Had the soldiers step off their ships and onto the beaches in fear, victory would have been impossible. War is never easy, but the Allies showed perseverance by working as a team bravely until it resulted in victory.

Winston Churchill once said, “I would say to the house ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.’ Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”

D-Day was a monumental accomplishment in the war effort, especially considering the resources soldiers had available at the time. As the battle celebrates its 75th anniversary, it provides an opportunity to celebrate the courage of men to march into battle amid a strong opposition and the legacy of strength and selflessness they represented as they stormed the beaches.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.