Try to imagine for a moment if you can that you are probably fresh out of High School, or maybe just a bit older, maybe you had a girlfriend or wife, maybe not. Heck, you maybe never even had your first beer or cigarette.
None of that matters though because in a very short space of time, you went from whatever you were used to, to watching our nation become engulfed in a war a million miles away from your favorite fishing hole, bowling alley, mountain top, or whatever great memory you had, to doing your part and proudly joining the military, to finding yourself feeling alone on a landing craft which was tossing in the rolling sea causing a lot of the guys around you to turn green and toss their breakfast.
The closer you got to the unseen shore, the louder the gunfire sounded, the thicker the smoke and the mixed smell of blood, vomit, and waste from guys who may have lost all control. Some of the guys were silent, some prayed silently or out loud, and for too many of them, whatever they were doing at that moment before the front of that craft opened to merciless enemy machine gun fire was the very last thing they ever did.
If you survived that moment, now you faced the ordeal of making it past the dead or dying bodies of men who were alive only moments ago in a sea turned red with their blood, by the countless booby traps and sharp, jagged iron structures designed to rip you to shreds. All the while, the incessant machine gun fire was pouring down from multiple positions above you.
Fire, smoke, death, the sounds of men screaming in pain mixed with explosions, tanks, the pounding surf; that was your existence if you made it. In short, you got a taste, a glimmer of what you imagine that hell must be like.
This was your first time away from home and every next moment could be your last; this was what so many brave men experienced on our behalf on a fateful day seventy-five years ago today.
As we remember this day and gratefully honor their sacrifices, let us always keep in mind that had these men not embarked on this momentous occasion which was the largest assemblage of military force in history to date, the war in Europe might very well have been lost and one of the most evil tyrants in history might have had unbridled power for decades after.
The world owes all of these brave men and women as well as all veterans a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.