Determination, sacrifice end Nazi tyrannyOn June 6, 1944 — 68 years ago today — Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, to fight the Nazi regime and defeat the evil forces of fascism and military imperialism.
By: By John Scocos, Superior Telegram
On June 6, 1944 — 68 years ago today — Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, to fight the Nazi regime and defeat the evil forces of fascism and military imperialism.
With more than 5,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft and 160,000 troops, the D-Day invasion was the largest amphibious assault in history.
We’ve all seen the pictures of troops hunkered down in boats, then disembarking, weighed down by their packs, and bravely wading to shore under gunfire —pictures of paratroopers flying over the English Channel ready to make the jump of their lives, steeling themselves to drop behind enemy lines.
We remember their determination, their sacrifice.
Today, we celebrate and pay tribute to the men and women who acted with courage in the face of adversity. They demonstrated skill and ingenuity in the most difficult of circumstances in a war that changed the course of history. They brought pride and victory to our great nation.
These soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines not only defeated powerful military machines bent on global domination, but they also defeated evil ideas — the masses exist to serve the privileged few, that certain races, ethnic groups and religions are inferior to others.
And when the forces of evil were defeated, these veterans returned home and built America into an economic superpower and a model for democracy for the entire world.
Many received little glory or fame, but the men and women of our Greatest Generation made a contribution to humanity that may never be equaled.
D-Day marked the beginning of the end of the Nazi regime. The actions and sacrifices of the troops on that day were critical to winning World War II. Their actions were brave, and common amongst those of that generation.
Just last month, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs hosted Operation Greatest Generation as part of the Year of the Veteran, where we honored more than 350 World War II veterans from across the state. This historic, largest of its kind event in Wisconsin, brought together about 1,200 veterans, and their families and friends for a day-long celebration and recognition ceremony.
One of the veterans we recognized during the ceremony was Master Chief Robert Reeners. He joined the Navy in 1943 and on D-Day, at age 19, he piloted a 36-foot Higgins boat filled with troops and supplies onto Utah Beach, Normandy.
We also recognized U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division veteran Warren Skenadore from Oneida. He was in the battles of Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe. For his gallantry in action against the enemy, he earned the Silver Star.
Undoubtedly, countless others performed many unsung heroic deeds that deserve our gratitude.
While we cannot tell all the stories of all the Wisconsin men and women who served in this epic war, let us all remember their deeds and appreciate their sacrifices, and take a moment to honor the legacy of these heroes and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
John A. Scocos is the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and an Iraq War veteran.