Schools on the The Hill are empty this weekend. Graduation day was another dreary afternoon. I’m sure blankets were cherished items. It’s never hot for graduation. The sun is out for New Year’s Day, not early June. I was all set to wax eloquently about the joy and freedom the last day of school brought each year. It was always better than Christmas. But the anniversary on Thursday hit me hard.
My heart melted as I contemplated the events of D-Day, on its 75th anniversary. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to wait in the darkness off the coast of France for dawn. That dawn brought battle, near certain death on those serene beaches. The thought numbs the mind.
It was the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare. On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 brave young soldiers from the United States, the UK and Canada stormed the beaches of Normandy, France to push the Nazis out of Western Europe and turn the tide of the war for good.
In planning the D-Day attack, Allied military leaders knew that casualties might be very high, but it was a cost they were willing to pay to establish an infantry stronghold in France. Days before the invasion, General Eisenhower was told by a top strategist that paratrooper casualties alone could be as high as 75 percent. But he pushed forward anyway. Freedom was at stake.
The landings were the first stage of Operation Overlord — the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe — and aimed to bring an end to World War II. By nightfall, around 156,000 Allied troops had arrived in Normandy, despite challenging weather and a fierce German defense. At the end of D-Day, the Allies had established a foothold in France and within 11 months Nazi Germany was defeated.
They are heroes. Whether they lived or died, they are heroes. They changed history and defeated evil. Soon, the countryside of France would breathe free again. Soon, the gates at the concentration camps would be opened. Finally. We owe those brave soldiers so much. They are the greatest of American generations.
But how do we use our freedom for which they shed their blood? We, too, want to be and to do the heroic. What does that mean for us? It is not measured today in the storming of more beaches. From God’s viewpoint, it is much simpler than that. To gain the favor of God, walk with Him, let the Scriptures permeate your life, and provide for the members of your own household. In those moments, we change the world and honor the sacrifice made by those soldiers. And our Savior.
The brave soldiers who stormed the beaches of France, made a difference because they went all-in together. It was the force of their unity which overwhelmed the enemy. That is the unity we cherish in the church. It is that measure of love which will change the world.
What can we do to change the world? Love God. Do justice. Provide for your family. In that, we change our world. That is enough. Chose to live with your eyes on the eternal.