Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Opinion

June 6, 2014

Can you tell me what happened on June 6, 1944?

Athens — I’ve heard  some people say they don’t like history, because it’s nothing but memorizing a lot of dates.

It seems to me, they’re missing the point. History isn’t just the dates. It’s a collection of stories about people and the triumphs, trials and hardships of the days they lived. The protagonists in the stories walked on the moon, blazed trails in through the wilderness, and in some cases committed heinous acts against their fellow man.

Adolph Hitler is the name that first comes to mind when we think of atrocities. The forces of the 3rd Reich, under him exterminated millions of people. Had his plans not been cut short, the number of dead would have far exceeded the 5 million or more estimated by Paul Hilberg in the “Destruction of the European Jews.”

By June 6, 1944, after years of fighting the Nazis on other fronts, the time had come to liberate Europe, and put a stop to Der Feuhrer and his evils. The German fighting machine was still an immense force. Heavily-armed and well-trained, they would dig in against the allied assault.

Operation Overlord, as the invasion was called, required an amassed armada of 5,000 vessels. More than 160,000 allied troops made it to shore on the first day. By the end of August, more than 3 million allied troops were in France, and days of the German hold on Europe were numbered.

We shouldn’t forget, when reciting those staggering numbers, all of the individual soldiers and sailors who put their lives on the line. They knew the capabilities of their enemy.

No one doubted as the boats left the English shoreline, that the cost of pushing the Nazi’s off the beaches of Normandy would be counted in human lives. The rows of crosses, still there today, are a timeless testament to the price that was paid.

The ultimate victory in Europe wasn’t won until the final spring. But without the push the allies got on that watershed day in June, it might have taken much longer to accomplish.

Berlin fell on April 16, 1945. Hitler was dead and the full benefit of that  fact to mankind cannot be understated. D-Day was the beginning of the end  for Hitler and his cronies, for their stranglehold on Europe and their extermination of about two-thirds of the Jewish population of the continent.

Four of my uncles fought in Europe.  Their names are chisled among the others in the Henderson County War Memorial that opened at the East Texas Arboretum last year. They all played a part in freeing Europe, and by extension, keeping us free.

The United States couldn’t fully celebrate the victory until the rest of the job was done. There was another enemy half a world away aligned with Hitler. About four more months of fierce fighting would take place before the imperial Empire of Japan fell, and we could declare peace at last.

When I was still in grade school, I remember picking up a magazine, and reading about the 20th anniversary of D-Day.  It was still fresh in the minds of many.  In 1994, we observed the 50th anniversary. The men who stormed the beaches were all past retirement age by then.

Today, the survivors are all in their late 80s and 90s. Eventually, they’ll be gone, and all that will remain of D-Day is what we learn from the history books.

Rich Flowers is news editor of the Athens Daily Review.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Wilson mug.JPG Rolling into something new

    She did it.
    My baby girl rolled over for the first time this past week while daddy and mommy were watching closely.
    As other major news broke across the county, watching my baby roll over for the first time was by far the biggest news of the week for me. Odd.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joe new mug.jpg Fanfare is a time to prepare for another season

    I love to see the talent our student athletes have across Henderson County. To know that each player puts in the blood, sweat and tears to play for a district championship and hopefully a state title is something special to see.
    Another great in the world of sports is a player who is retiring this season in New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
    Jeter once said, “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do — and I believe that.”

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • kathi New  copy.jpeg The greatest country in the world has hungry children

    No child should go hungry. We are the greatest country in the world, yet we have hungry children.
    An article I recently read said that if a child in school can't afford lunch, they will be given a sandwich and water. I was told the sandwich is cheese between two pieces of bread.
    I hope everyone realizes that is what they serve in the county jail. Not that I know this from personal experience. I was told from someone who did know from experience.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase

    Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase.
    Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze.
    It means no worries for the rest of your days.
    It's our problem-free philosophy.
    Hakuna Matata!
    Congratulations, if you have watched the Lion King a couple of times you now have this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg It was a week in the depth of heat, then cooler

    Sunday and Monday of this week have been very uncomfortable.  The air conditioner at our house has been down, and the temperature outside and in the house have been way up.
    Thank God for the blessing of the cool temperatures and the rain that fell on Tuesday, then on Wednesday.  It changed things just a little bit.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Time away is necessary for everyone

    I can remember as a kid writing essays on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” As the years pass, and we are more in-tune with the workplace, those vacations get shorter and shorter.
    Do you ever have those days  when you just need a vacation? Sometimes you just need to get away.
    Taking time off work should be fun and rejuvenating. We all need a recharge every now and then. But vacations aren't what they use to be. We rarely disconnect ourselves from our jobs.

    July 12, 2014

  • Joe new mug.jpg Student athletes: Time to wake up and get to work

    Hey student athletes, it is about time for you to wake up and get to work.
    Your summer is coming to an end, and the early morning wake up calls for practices are right around the corner.
    I am talking to the football players, volleyball players, cross country kids, band members, drill team members and cheerleaders.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Remember who you are

    Are you running so fast that you have forgotten why you started the race in the first place?
    Life moving at a blistering pace that it is tough to keep up?
    Maybe it is time to stop, take a deep look into the pool of water and remember. Remember who you are.
    On numerous occasions, I have had to do just that. Ironically, various movies have caused me to look inside.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg CSUMC provided a memorable experience

    My wife Jean and I went to a very interesting, and what I consider a very unique event last Saturday night.
    I had heard that the church where we are members, Carroll Springs United Methodist Church, was having an event in which people sitting in the audience would sing their favorite hymns into a microphone.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich mug.jpg Independence ultimately won on battlefield

    I always enjoy celebrating Independence Day, and hearing some of the stirring words written in the Declaration of Independence.
    Thomas Jefferson wrote that our Creator has given us certain rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The way I see it, if I have life and liberty, that gives me a pretty good start on the third one.
    But as eloquent as our founding fathers were, and how moving the texts they left behind, one fact can’t be overlooked. Our independence was ultimately won and secured on the battlefield.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

Biz Marquee
AP Video
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe