After 70 years, the free world is losing the men who made history on Omaha Beach and the other spots on the English Channel where one of the greatest military exploits of all time was achieved.
It went well, far better than many expected; even Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower drafted a statement, taking full responsibility, if the landings were to be turned back.
They were not: “About 160,000 troops landed on five Normandy beaches and linked up with airborne troops in a masterful display of planning and courage,” writes historian Victor Davis Hanson. “Within a month, almost a million Allied troops had landed in France and were heading eastward toward the German border. Within eleven months the war with Germany was over.”
The heroes of D-Day — American, British, Canadian mostly, but also French and Poles fighting directly for the liberation of their homelands — deserve to be remembered.
But Hanson rightly paid tribute in National Review to the fighting quality of the German Army, the foe America and the Allies outproduced, then outfought. “The German soldier was the more disciplined, experienced, armed, and deadly warrior of World War II,” Hanson noted. “But his cause was bad, and by 1944 his enemies were far more numerous and far better supplied.”
There were machines behind the men. Germans had better tanks but produced about 8,000 of them; the Sherman tank was durable enough and the United States produced 50,000 of them, Hanson said.
The democracies flooded the zone, with tanks and trucks and airplanes and ships. Our industrial might, the power of private enterprise harnessed to war work, was also central to victory. That should also be another lesson to be learned today.