Today marks the 64th anniversary of D-Day when more than 150,000 brave Allied soldiers hit the beaches of Normandy, a day that marked the beginning of the end of World War Two. As they hit the beaches named Sword, Juno, Utah, Gold and Omaha, many of them did not survive. In the first day over 10,000 men including nearly 2,000 Americans were killed or wounded.
While I obviously would do nothing to reduce or diminish the sacrifices of our troops today, it is worth noting that in that first day they lost perhaps 1/4 of the total number we have lost in the last four years. Not only that they continued to fight for nearly another year afterwards, through conditions we can only imagine.
It is increasingly important that we remember these brave men. If you assume these were 18, 19 and 20 year old men when they hit the beaches. Do a little math (adding 62 years) and you start to realize that these same men are now in their 80’s or more. While bullets and bombs took the lives of perhaps 1,000 soldiers on that day, today time is taking 1,000 World War Two veterans.
Just yesterday we learned that Jack Lucas, one of the youngest winners of the Medal of Honor, had died at the age of 80. During World War Two he lied about his age to enlist when he was just 14. A few days after his 17th birthday he was fighting at Iwo Jima when he jumped on not one but TWO live hand grenades that had landed near him and his fellow soldiers.
His body drove the grenades into the soft soil before they exploded, saving the lives of everyone nearby. Miraculously he survived though he underwent a series of surgeries over the next 20 months and more than 200 metal fragments remained in his body.
He is of course only one of the more dramatic examples of the bravery of our WW2 veterans.
If you have a grandparent, uncle, cousin or friend who is or who knows a World War Two veteran please take the time today to go thank them for their services. Spend a little time with them, listen to their stories, take them to lunch or just hold their hand for a while.
They spent months slogging through the mud for us so giving them a little time is the least we can do.