The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

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June 6, 2008

June 6, 1944, would bring the beginning of the end of Nazi tyranny; first would come the dying

The fate of much of the world hung in the balance as the clock struck midnight, ushering in June 6, 1944.

Hitler’s Nazi forces maintained an iron grip on much of Europe and were systematically conducting their wholesale murder of Jews and others they deemed unworthy of life.

The Germans already had made the fatal mistake of invading mother Russia and had suffered great losses, but Joseph Stalin continued to call for a second front.

The operation was dubbed “Overlord,” and originally was planned for either June 4 or 5, but poor weather forced postponement until June 6, dubbed D-Day.

The D, incidentally, stands for nothing. It is simply a military designation for the day an operation is to begin. But throughout history there will forever remain only one true D-Day.

“You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months,” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote in a letter to the U.S. Army on the eve of D-Day. “The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe and security for ourselves in a free world.”

The destruction would come later, as would the elimination of Nazi tyranny. First would come the dying.

And there was plenty of it, on both sides.

On the beaches of Normandy that June morning it was like someone left the door to Hell ajar.

Those who have seen the first 15 minutes of the film “Saving Private Ryan” have some sense of what it was like that day. But it’s a bit like watching a film about childbirth. You intellectually can understand the experience, but unless you go through it yourself you have no idea.

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