0108 hours 6 June 1944. The greatest amphibious force in history sails slowly across a treacherous Channel to begin, in Normandy, the final assault on Hitler's "Fortress Europe." Paratroopers of the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne, and British glider troops, have already landed well behind the enemy lines on the coast. Years of planning and preparation, including a massive and detailed campaign of deception, have led up to this hour. Many brave men will die or be shattered so that we, sixty-seven years later, can live free. Salute them!
Personal side note: my Pop might have been there but for a fluke. Here is the way he told the story. He was at the docks with his rifle company, who were embarking on the ships that would carry them to Europe. He was called aside by his company commander, Captain Cohen (for whom Pop could do no wrong since the time Pop, called to lead grace in mess hall, said Catholic grace and then called for silence, put his cap back on, and recited the Shema Yisrael.)
Captain Cohen said to Pop, "Sergeant, we need men to stay behind as weapons instructors, and since you shot expert with almost every weapon you touched, we need you. You may wish to go overseas with your company. You have twenty minutes to make up your mind." Pop said, "Sir, I don't need twenty minutes, I have a wife and two little boys at home." (Guess who the four-month-old baby was.)
Pop said it came out later that his company was attached to the 4th Division, which was in the center of the front line in the Ardennes Forest in December 1944, and took 30% casualties. So Pop might never have come home -- and there would have been no Cecilia, no Mary, no Joe, no Ray, no Margaret.
God writes straight with crooked lines.