The Price of Freedom

May 24, 2024 | D-Day 80 Years On

Many came … some had to stay.
Approximately 150,000 men landed on the beaches of Normandy on D Day, June 6th, 1944. Approximately 4,500 were killed and another 5,000 wounded or missing. The overall casualty rate was 7%, with by far the highest losses suffered by airborne troops and special forces.

The Germans defenders lost approximately 1,000 men on D Day itself and French civilian deaths were similar.

The Battle of Normandy—from D Day until Allied forces were able to overcome German defenses and break out toward the Seine—lasted 2 months. During that time the Allies lost an estimated 70,000 killed and 150,000 wounded, while the Germans lost an estimated 80,000 killed and 200,000 injured, lost, or taken prisoner. Approximately 30,000 to 40,000 French civilians died.

Many years later, in 1966 President Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from NATO and requested all foreign troops to leave France by a given deadline. Dean Rusk, then US Secretary of State, wrote in his memoires that he asked De Gaulle if that included dead American soldiers in cemeteries.

The Allies triumphed in Normandy and moved on, pursuing the Germans north toward Belgium and east toward Paris, leaving behind destruction of epic proportions.

The face of victory—a lost little girl and an old lady amidst the ruins of their homes
That was then, this is now.
Time heals, cities are rebuilt, and life goes on. D Day is now fully three generations ago, fading into mists of times gone by. But let us remember those for whom life did not go on. It is important, I think, to build a future worthy of the price they paid.

The poet Laurence Binyon wrote:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn / At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them.
Will we?

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