Saturday, June 6, 2009
The 65th Anniversary of D-Day
June 6, 1944 - More than 150,000 Allied troops took part in D-Day, 65 years ago today. The Allied forces, made up of mostly American, British and Canadian troops, overwhelmed German forces in the Normandy Invasion. The operation proved to be a turning point in driving the Nazis out of France and doomed Hitler's dream of a Nazi controlled Europe, marking the beginning of the end for Germany in World War II. The operation, code-named "Operation Overlord", was commanded by American General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Originally intended to be on June 5, 1944, bad weather delayed it until the following day. The U.S. National D-Day Memorial Foundation estimates that 2,499 Americans were killed, along with 1,915 from the other Allied nations, totaling 4,414 dead (much higher than previous estimates of a total of 2,500 dead). Today, on the anniversary of D-Day, President Obama joined France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a ceremony at the American Cemetery in Normandy. President Obama addressed the 288 veterans who attended the ceremony: "You are why we keep coming back." Nearby Omaha Beach was one of the main landing points for U.S. troops involved in the operation, and Obama urged the world to remember what happened there. "Friends and veterans, what we cannot forget...is that D-Day was a time and a place where the bravery and selflessness of a few was able to change the course of an entire century." We defeated Hitler, but we cannot ignore - on this, the 65th anniversary of D-Day - that evil and hatred still exists. The United States is involved in two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are at trying to figure what to do about nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea. Iranian's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a 2005 speech: "Israel must be wiped off the map." North Korea's diminutive oddball leader, Kim Jong Il, was described by CNN as "one of the most mysterious leaders in the world". And the craziest. North Korea has been testing its nuclear weapons, and it's only a matter of time before the United States is within its range. This is a day to reflect on the past, and try to figure out the future. President Obama has his hands full.