September 23, 2020by Reverend Dan on September 23, 2020
"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Each day as we walked down to the beach, I was reminded how hard it is to walk in the sand.
And like a lightning strike out of a clear sky, it dawned on me. I turned to the beach and watched those waves again, and all I could think about was June 6, 1944. The military code name for it was Operation Overlord, the invasion of France. The actual seaborne invasion, the largest in history, was code named Operation Neptune. We know it as D-day, the day when Allied troops invaded the European continent by storming the shores at Normandy, Omaha, and Utah beaches.
Planning for the operation took over one year. The first part was code named Operation Bodyguard, a deception tactic used to mislead the Axis (Germany, Japan, Italy) as to the date and location of the Allied landing. The first “go date” was June 5, but the weather was so disagreeable that it was postponed 24 hours. The weather didn’t change, but to postpone it again would mean another two week wait as the invasion included requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day which meant that only a few days each month were a possibility. So, in heavy fog and driving rain, the go was given.
First were aerial and naval bombardments. Then came an airborne assault – 24,000 Allied troops dropped behind enemy lines shortly after midnight. At 6:30 AM, infantry and armored divisions began to land on the 50 mile stretch of the French shoreline which had been broken into five sectors. Strong winds blew some of the landing craft east of their intended destinations, but the invasion proceeded. Under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, the men left the landing vehicles and ran into the water and onto the wet sand, each carrying approximately 25 pounds of equipment. When they got to the beach the shore was mined and covered with wooden stakes and barbed wire. During that one day, there were over 10,000 Allied casualties.
As I stood on the beach that calm morning, I realized I could never understand any of the emotions those brave men and women must have felt. Theirs was a bravery and courage beyond my comprehension. But it is not beyond my appreciation or gratitude. Even amid a literal hell on earth, they were of good courage, fighting for our rights and our freedom . . . with one of those privileges being the one to gather and worship.
That generation of heroes are almost gone now, but I pray that their bravery and courage will never be forgotten. And I pray that the God who went with them that morning has welcomed them home with a “well done good and faithful servant”. Our country – and our churches - owe them our gratitude.
"Father, Help us to always treasure the courage and strength of those who bought us our freedom. In Jesus' name, AMEN."