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The Longest Day: June 6, 1944
|"Ready for battle, U.S. Infantrymen packed the decks of LCI's during the rough channel crossing.|
|Of six allied divisions that landed on D-day, three were U.S., two were British, one Canadian."|
Day of Days
Perry Giles, Guest Columnist, Waxahachie Daily Light
the top shelf of my bookcase sits a small fruit jar. It is half full of tan
colored sand, fine sand, almost powdery. It doesn’t look like much, but 63
years ago this sand lay in the center of the universe, and about to witness to
most important event in the 20th century.
the Waxahachie Daily Light
country had been building towards this day for over two years. There was much
anticipation and anxiousness in the hearts and minds of everyone. Hundreds of
would be manning the 11,000 warplanes that would be flying on that morning.
Others would be stationed onboard the 1200 combat ships that would sail into
battle on that day. Still others would man the more than 800 merchant ships that
would sail into harm’s way on that stormy morning. Other young men from
men from Forreston, from Boyce, from Ovilla and all across
morning of the invasion, this statement was delivered, “Soldiers,
Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces: You are about to embark
upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes
of the world are upon you. 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 oppressed peoples of
task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and
battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We
will accept nothing less than full victory!
Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and
noble undertaking.” -
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Waxahachie, shortly before
, the community was awakened by the fire alarm and factory sirens. It brought
lights into the windows of a great number of homes across the city. Although the
public had been expecting this and were somewhat in readiness for the signal,
people are never quite prepared for such a momentous occurrence.
the Daily Light Tuesday June 6th edition, “With prayers in
their hearts for the victory and for the welfare of the American boys and
allies, Waxahachians today went about their workaday tasks preoccupied and many
of them, after they had gone to the churches of their choice and offered up
supplication to Almighty God for the liberation of the coerced and for the
safety of those who are fighting for freedom…
large number of Waxahachie and
was a young Sergeant from
Cleveland was a young Corporal from Ennis. He served with the Army Engineers
and was with the first waves to land at
Buddy nor Jessie survived that day to ever know whether or not the invasion had
succeeded. Sgt. Wilson’s plane went down in the channel after colliding with
another plane in the early morning darkness. Cpl. Cleveland perished in the
blood stained red surf of
others followed them. Thousands more followed, all of them afraid, but they
overcame their fears and did what had to be done. By the end of the day, 73,000
Americans had fought their way across the bloody beaches or parachuted in behind
enemy lines. Their bravery and determination was nothing short of awe inspiring.
Their mission was enormous.
bold attack was a tremendous risk, and the outcome hung in the balance for
several hours. Ultimately it succeeded because of individual soldiers' bravery
in combat, and by the middle of the afternoon, Hitler’s Atlantic Wall was
broken. D-Day was a triumph of intelligence, coordination, secrecy, and
planning. But more than anything else, courage and initiative came to the fore.
Valor had never witnessed a finer hour.
sundown of June 6th, over 3000 young Americans had given their lives in the
battle. Many thousands more were wounded. All in all, it was somewhat of a
it was good luck, maybe it was good planning, or maybe something else helped to
decide the outcome that day. Maybe it was the flood of prayers from Waxahachie,
day President Roosevelt addressed the nation on the radio, “My Fellow
Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at
that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the
Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus
so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a
struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to
set free a suffering humanity.
them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts,
steadfastness in their faith.
will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is
strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed,
but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the
righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is
won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken
with the violence’s of war.
these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust
of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to
let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn
but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants,
into Thy kingdom…
Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy... Lead us to
the saving of our country... Thy will be done, Almighty God.
years ago, a remarkable generation of Americans joined together as never before
or since to fight the largest war in our history. For four years they rolled up
their sleeves and committed themselves totally to the cause as if nothing else
were our parents, our grandparents, and our neighbors, and if they hadn’t won,
you would not enjoy the freedom to live the way you do today. I am reminded of
them every time I look up at that small jar of tan colored sand from the day of
days, sand from
them on this Sixth of June. They saved your world.
"Day of Days" by Perry Giles, Guest Columnist, Waxahachie Daily Light: The above article appeared in the Sunday, June 3, 2007 issue of the Waxahachie Daily Light. The article is courtesy of Perry Giles, Giles Monument Company, Waxahachie, Texas. Waxahachie, Texas.
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