‘Their valor must always be remembered’

Published 7:04 pm Friday, June 7, 2019

For those who read the pages of The Vicksburg Post, whether in print or online, they are reading a history book in the making. With each issue, whether it be this newspaper or any other, the events of a day are documented and memorialized to be consumed one day and researched later.

This past week, our country — and the rest of the world — marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Invasion of Europe. It was a day that changed the course of history in our world, beginning the liberation of Europe from the grips of Nazi Germany.

As today’s Post has done with many events and historical moments, the staff of The Vicksburg Post took the time in an editorial on the 50th anniversary of D-Day to comment on the seismic impact of that event.

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Here is what The Post said on June 6, 1994:

“The youngest who were in the assault force are now 67 or 68. But to a man, they remember D-Day as if it were a moment frozen in time. Those with roles in Operation Overlord knew they were making history. Over and over again, said one veteran, they prayed ‘for guts.’

From the moment it became clear America would enter World War II in Europe, it also became clear that something like D-Day would be part of the effort.

Numbers from June 6, 1944, still stagger the imagination.

The Allied first wave included 160,000 men in three paratroop and infantry divisions, tank and commando units.

German commanders knew that a beachhead on the continent was paramount to a victory for the United States and its allies. They put everything they had into being ready, as Rommel said, to push the invasion force ‘back into the sea.’

Historians today — now that a half century has passed – feel a little less apprehensive about pointing out the miscues which occurred. There were many. Gliders landed in the wrong places. Paratroopers did, too. Pre-day shelling failed to take out many of the German heavy guns. Very few of the first-day objectives were achieved.

But what is absolutely clear is that prayers were granted. God did give the invasion force ‘guts’ because, now that the mistakes are documented, it has become even more clear just how determined those teen-agers and men in their early 20s and 30s had to be.

Few of us who were not there can imagine the feeling of packing 40 to 60 pounds of gear, plus parachute, and jumping out an aircraft door in complete darkness — knowing that thousands below were waiting to try to kill you.

Few of us can imagine being tossed around in a landing craft for an hour or more and then ejected into neck-deep water in the face of machine gun fire.

And thanks to those who’ve done this, few of us may never have to face such horrors.

The day Allied troops gained a nearly 60-mile-wide foothold on Nazi-occupied France was 50 years ago.

We can’t forget those brave men, for 2,500 of whom June 6, 1944, was the last day of their lives.

We can’t forget the simple fact that when duty called, they answered. Their valor must always be remembered.”

With the exception of a few dates and ages, nothing has changed since the writing of that editorial in 1994.

The sacrifice made by so many on D-Day and the days before and after that historic event help shape the lives of millions of Europeans, and changed history for the world.

It was a day the world will never forget, and a day we hope and pray never has to be duplicated.