66 years ago today, the Allied forces of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Poland, and others stormed onto the beaches of Normandy and began the long battle for Europe that would topple the Third Reich. Estimates say the Allies lost 2,500 dead among 10,000 casualties that day alone. For the entire Battle of Normandy, the allies lost more than 53,000 soldiers and airmen.
Yet, the Allies did not falter in their goal. No one–or perhaps more correctly, very few–doubted that the only way to end the threat Hitler and the Nazis posed to the world was their total defeat and unconditional surrender. To that end, the Allies endured another year of fighting, including powerful enemy counter-offensives and battles lost in the vagaries of war.
It is from the actions of that “Greatest Generation” that many of our current military members and a few of our current civilian leaders take their inspiration. They look at the circumstances that clouded the world in the 1940s and see powerful and dangerous parallels today. They realize that, like the Allies in 1944, there was no option but to move forward, to attack, and to win.
If you doubt this comparison, ask yourself two questions: first, what would the world have looked like if the Allies had failed to act 66 years ago today. Second, what will the world look like if we fail to succeed in places like Afghanistan and Iraq today.
There is no doubt that we must succeed now as certainly as the Allies had to succeed then. Tyranny, no matter what its source, must never be allowed to gain a foothold, or our humanity is lost and our efforts are in vain.