D-Day, June 6, 1944

With huge, world-changing events like the D-Day landings on the beaches at Normandy in early June of 1944, the immediacy and the reality of individual experiences get lost in the “big picture” of history. And it must be so, for to tell all of the individual stories would never be possible. History is told by the events and the good or bad results of those massive moments that shape it. But those moments in history are acted out and shaped by the collective actions and sacrifices of countless individuals.

Battlefields like Normandy on that momentous day are huge pieces of territory. Each beach was a different challenge, a different part of the story. And on each of those beaches, there were individual divisions, battalions, companies, and squads, each having a specific objective to be achieved. The more they work in concert, it was hoped, the better the results would be.

Photo: YouTube/AARP

But, as any combat veteran knows, the original battle plans often change dramatically as soon as the first shots are fired and each unit and each individual must act, must find a new way to get the job done, or die in the attempt. And, as the nature of being a human being dictates, we encounter these events that we are a part of from the intense confines of our own minds in the midst of the chaos.

This D-Day video looks at that day from that perspective — the point of view of a single soldier who went ashore that day. It is told through the intimacy of a letter written to a sweetheart after the first fighting had subsided enough to do things like write a letter.

Photo: YouTube/AARP

It is written by PFC Dominick “Dom” Bart, a U.S. Army infantryman. It is the narrative of a young man thrown into the chaos of battle for the first time. And we can only imagine what it must have been like. Those among us who are combat veterans will nod our heads in recognition. Our stories would, of course, be different from that of PFC Bart, but we can clearly recognize the thoughts and add our own sounds, smells, and internal feelings that we experienced in our own heads when we went through something similar.

Photo: YouTube/AARP

That day, now forever known to history as D-Day, was experienced by thousands of young men like PFC Bart. They participated in one of the most profound moments in the 20th century. Their successes and sacrifices that day changed the course of WWII. It would be the beginning of the end of the bloodiest worldwide war in human history. It would be the beginning of the end of one of the vilest dictatorships the world had seen to that point. It was the courage, determination, and love of life and liberty that is natural to each and every human being that would impel them forward into the horrors of combat that day and all those that would follow until the Nazi war machine was finally defeated. It was millions of individuals like PFC Bart who slogged on, who met and faced the enemy day after day until the job was done, that made victory possible.

Photo: YouTube/AARP

We must never forget that moment in history and what it meant and what it cost us in talent and treasure. But we must also remember that those efforts were undertaken by millions of individual Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines who had to confront and overcome their own fears and choose to keep moving forward into the face of the enemy each moment of every day. The history books of wars are told from the big picture perspectives of armies, divisions, and battalions, but the words, the sentences of the story, are written by the individual lives of those who fought and sacrificed anonymously to make that history possible.

We remember all of those thousands of individuals who joined together in their divisions, battalions, companies, and squads, to go ashore that day to turn the tide of tyranny back toward human freedom.

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