The 70th anniversary celebrations of the D-Day landings on June 6 held in Normandy dominated the news media. Attended by some 20 world leaders, they included Barack Obama (USA), Vladimir Putin (Russia), the newly elected President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, and the supreme guest of honor, Her Majesty the Queen (UK).
Francois Hollande, the French President, was the Master of Ceremonies on an emotional day. Due respect and appreciation were paid—principally to America and Britain for their commitment to “peace,” and “liberty” and “democracy.” The bravery, courage and sacrifice of all who took part in the Normandy Campaign were abundantly honored.
It is a sad fact of history that during the Allied attempt to free Europe, many thousands of French civilians were inadvertently killed by “friendly fire” from the very forces attempting to deliver them. Some 15,000 perished prior to D-Day in the intense aerial bombing of Normandy; 5,000 were killed liberating just the one strategic French town of Caen. Perhaps as many as 57,000 died during the entire course of the war, only a few short of the 60,000 UK civilians killed by the Germans in the Blitz of London.
Many French might well feel saddened by such a sacrifice. But, of course, all of the Allied troops who paid the ultimate sacrifice throughout the Normandy campaign in some sense also died for France.
The number of known casualties during the campaign continues to rise remorselessly as greater efforts are expended to check for accuracy. The latest estimate is that the Allies suffered some 6,500 casualties—dead, wounded and missing—each day on average during the 77-day campaign. That is more than half a million men.
Today some 110,000 war dead from both sides repose peacefully in 27 well-tended Normandy war cemeteries. 77,866 Germans; 9,386 Americans; 17,769 British; 5,002 Canadians and 650 Poles. They provide a mute and stark reminder of the horrific human cost of the war—of defending freedom and liberty.
Back in 1944 the stakes could not have been higher. It was “do or die” for the cause of freedom. Indeed for all too many, it was “do and die” in the cause of liberty. The Allies knew that they had to hurl everything they had at the enemy and win at all costs, for scarcely would there be a second chance.
And so we should be thankful to God for one of the greatest and most significant miracles of deliverance of all time; Europe was set free and has remained peaceful and free to this day. It allowed Europe to recover from the ashes of war and rebuild a shattered civilization. Today’s prosperity can be directly traced back to these Allied efforts a lifetime ago.
Never should we forget the sacrifice of men and women who were willing to fight and die so the world could remain free. We owe them an unfathomable debt of enduring gratitude. For all those born after the war, who have not known a war in Europe, be thankful; our freedom is a priceless gift we should not underestimate.
It is sobering to realize that the peace we enjoy today, is in fact transitory. So says your Bible (Matthew 24:6–7, 9, 21–23). More war—on an unimaginable scale—is sadly coming (Revelation 12:7; 13:7; 17:14; 19:11, 19). It is not a pleasant message to convey. But the good news is that ultimately God will bring peace to our war-weary world. He wants each one of us, in the meantime, to work for peace (Romans 14:19; Hebrews 12:14; James 3:18; 1 Peter 3:11).
Where will God be when future wars erupt? Will He deliver, as He has done in the past, or will it be different next time? You need to know. You need to be prepared. You need to understand why we have wars seemingly without end.
If you would like to learn more about the D-Day landings, read our timely article in the May-June 2014 issue of Tomorrow’s World magazine. If you would like to learn more about God’s plan for a peaceful tomorrow, please order the free booklet, The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?