Yesterday was the anniversary of the Allied invasion at Normandy, a huge, risky move that ended up turning the course of the war and human history.
Of course the attack was ultimately successful but came at a terrible cost. My grandmother lost her brother on that day, and she was not exceptional in that regard. The older I get, the more I become interested in and aware of the human cost of great events. The regular men and women whose lives are effected and changed.
I found these words by President Reagan, speaking at a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary. He was speaking at Normandy to a group of American veterans--men who had grown old and gray but had returned to the site they had hallowed with their courage as young men. His words are far more eloquent than mine. The WWII generation is almost gone--and with them, the immediate, first-hand memory of what they did. It's important for us not to forget.
"Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.
The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you."Link here for the full remarks.
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