This Memorial Day, Americans will consider some significant anniversaries that relate directly to this time of national reflection. On June 6 the United States and its World War II allies will mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the massive military landing on the beaches of Normandy that would result eleven months later in the end of the European War.
On the evening of June 6, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt gave a radio address in which he framed a prayer for those who fought: “They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.”
He had predicted on June 5 that the road ahead “will be tough and it will be costly… .”
It would be tough and it would prove very costly. But by the end of August the American 28th Infantry Division marched down the Champs-Élysées. Allied forces were greeted there and in the French countryside by cheering newly-liberated French citizens. It was a heady time even though Bastogne and the Rhine and Berlin lay ahead. And of course to the east the foreboding home islands of Japan.
There will surely and appropriately be many programs and speakers that remind us of this historic D-Day battle. As Americans in 2019 remember Normandy and celebrate that step to victory, it will be important to also pause to consider another anniversary, one that has little place in our national memory. It was a battle that engaged the sons of the World War II generation, a battle won but not celebrated.