by Larry Peterson
|LCVP Landing Craft at Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944|
June 6, 1944: It was 6:30 a.m. in France. In America it was 12:30 a.m. on the East Coast and still June 5 on the West Coast. Most Americans at home were sleeping not having the slightest inkling that many of the best and the bravest of the American future were beginning their day by dying for the most noble of reasons; to save the world from the maniacal Adolf Hitler and his Nazi hordes. What price freedom?
Look at the photo to the right. Those young men in that LCVP were about to land on the beach. They were probably so frightened as those sand dunes got closer and closer. The fear was normal and justified. Fifteen (15) minutes after that picture was taken many of them were dead. Just like that. Sons, brothers, husbands, gone. Shredded by the relentless machine gun fire coming from the German bunkers. Many killed were still teenagers. What price freedom? The price never changes. It is always “blood and treasure”, isn’t it?
Word of the invasion quickly reached the Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland. German authorities, hearing these “rumors”, quickly began searching the ghetto for illegal radios. Six Jews were promptly arrested and just as promptly executed. On the island of Corfu, located west of Greece, 1800 Jews were arrested by the Gestapo and summarily deported to Auschwitz. Upon detraining the transports, 1600 were immediately murdered in the gas chambers and the remaining 200 were sent off to forced labor. As word of the invasion began to take hold the Nazis took a ship with 260 Canean Jewish “passengers” aboard plus an untold number of corpses of Jews already murdered by the Nazis and sank it to destroy the evidence. The noose around the neck of the Third Reich was beginning to tighten. Another ship, bound for the trains to Auschwitz, was sunk by torpedoes from a British submarine. Besides all the Jewish people on board there were also 300 Italian POWs and 400 Greek civilians. It was still June 6 and, as young men were dying by the thousands on the beaches of France, an uptick in the extermination of the Jewish people began to take hold.
We know that Operation Overlord turned the tide of WWII in favor of the allies. It was the beginning of the end of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler and his evil henchmen. Casualty numbers for the Normandy Invasion still stagger the mind. 29,000 Americans were killed and 106, 000 were wounded. The British suffered 11,000 killed and 54,000 wounded. The Canadians lost 5,000 killed and 13,000 wounded. The French, fighting as partisans, lost 12,200 killed and missing. The casualties were mind boggling. The allies lost 57,000 killed and more than 175,000 wounded. Factor in the 30,000 Germans killed and 80,000 wounded and it is simply hard to comprehend how one man, filled with an ego so massive it knew no bounds, could somehow influence such evil and destruction. But Adolf Hitler managed to do just that. As always, evil could not and did not prevail. But the cost to defend the freedoms threatened were profound. What price freedom? It is always, just as it is to this very day, “blood and treasure”. It is always mostly taken from the young
It would be almost another year before the war in Europe ended. On April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler committed suicide in a bunker as the Battle of Berlin raged above. On May 8, 1945, the war in Europe came to its official end with the German surrender. It was President Harry Truman’s 61st birthday. He dedicated the victory to his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died only a month before.
Operation Overlord, aka D-Day, was the largest undertaking of its kind in the history of mankind. Thousands upon thousands of soldiers: American, British, Canadian, French and others too, died that day. Many more were wounded. An evil had taken root and festered and exploded like an unstoppable virus infecting and killing millions. But honor and integrity and justice coupled with a permeating belief in an almighty God saw victory come to those who respected GOODNESS. What price freedom? The price is always “blood and treasure”. The alternative is bondage and tyranny.
Fast forward 70 years:
On June 3, 2014, Boko-Haram Islamist Militants (modern day, 21st Century cowardly and evil storm-troopers) entered the town of Gwoza in Nigeria. They were wanting to kill Christians. And kill they did. After they finished their “mission” of killing they had left behind at least 168 people dead, mostly women and children. An elderly Christian man faced the Boko-Haram and yelled, “IF YOU DO NOT REPENT OF KILLING INNOCENT CHRISTIANS THAT BELIEVE IN JESUS, THEIR BLOOD WILL JUDGE YOU.”
This statement enraged the insurgents and they slashed the man’s body apart with their swords. Then they beheaded him. He was 80 years old. He died defending Jesus. Whether it is a Jew or a Christian, not much has changed in 70 years. Persecution of Christians and Jews continues. The Nazis were ultimately crushed by GOODNESS. Boko-Haram will be crushed the same way. Make no mistake, the Battle for Goodness will require much blood and treasure but the battle will eventually be won. For those yesterday, today and tomorrow who have fought, fight and will fight the evil in this world, God bless you all.