So, June 6th 2019 was the right time and place to celebrate the valiant bravery of those from all nations who fought to liberate Europe. It was a moving day with some amazing stories from men who were almost all aged 90 or over with some over 100 years old. The celebration was tasteful as it really focused on the real stories of the men and the women who were actually there. Genuine emotion was demonstrated by many, but it was the men who were there who were moved the most.
Whoever put the time and thought into the planning did a really good job, as it balanced true appreciation from the heads of state for the sacrifices made not just on the day, and in the days, weeks, months, and years that followed. But, the real focus was on those who actually experienced the fear, horror, and extraordinary comradeship that the combatants from all sides experienced. One of the intriguing messages that was regularly shared was when the fighting started the men fought not for king and Country, but for the men by their side.
One of the most moving tales came from a commando from London, he described in his think cockney accent that he was not a hero, all the hero’s of D Day, he said were dead. He survived and lived a long life, indeed some felt guilty that that they had survived, what was very clear was that for those men who were there who lost their mates, the years simply rolled away and they were back as young men. Often most of them were teenagers, really young men, who had to grow up quickly, and fight a well disciplined experienced army. However the result could have been very different if the subterfuge and genius deceit, that was convincingly implemented to deceive the German high command had not actually worked, but it did and quite brilliantly. That the invasion was going to take place later in the summer at different locations successfully deployed the more experienced troops and Panzer divisions well away from the beaches of Normandy.
So, the anniversary will probably be the last one as the combatants and their extraordinary generation pass on, as their forefathers passed on after the First World War. However, the big difference this time around, is that unlike the end of World War One, lessons were not learned. And in a mere twenty years the Nazi Party rose from the shadows of poverty, frustration, and anger and instituted Fascist nationalism to a nation down trodden and isolated, That then spread its creed of hate and imperialism to send the whole world into turmoil. After World War Two, however, the United Nations was formed which gave stability and peace via NATO and the EU to prevent further conflict against the forces of the Warsaw Pact, until the effective fall of communism in the eighties. As well as dealing with the multitude of world threats that have surfaced ever since.
If I had to chose one example from the proceedings of the last day, it was a photo of a British veteran, resplendent in his medals and regimental beret, being asked by a very young French girl if he would do it again if he had to. He replied Yes, I would do it all again, for you. Says it all really, the liberties of the free world that we enjoy today were built on the bedrock of courage and sacrifice that these men of this generation gave on the shores and sands of Normandy. What a legacy to leave. Heroic.