This video gives a visual time line for the unfolding events of WWII. It marks several of the important moments in the six year long struggle in Europe to defend itself against the aggression of Nazi Germany.
Last June 6th, we remembered the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion by allied forces on the beaches of the Normandy Peninsula in France, otherwise known as D-Day. That battle was the beginning of the end for the Nazis. Eleven months later, almost to the day, the Germans would be forced to sign a total, unconditional surrender to the allied forces, under the command of General Dwight David Eisenhower.
England and all of Europe, along with the United States erupted in joy and the city streets in all of those countries were filled with revelers dancing, kissing, and sharing copious adult beverages. Joy unbounded burst forth after six long years costly suffering, blood and toil to turn back the threatening tide of Nazi aggression against freedom.
But the joy could only be brief as the war in the Pacific was still raging on. Now all of the attention, men, material and supplies, would be focused on the war against Japanese imperialism.
We must never forget that for a brief period of time in the middle of last century, the world was on the edge of being swept up and being swallowed by tyrannical forces in Europe and in Asia. This was a world war of monumental proportions.
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Nothing like it had ever happened before, or since. It took the courage, the will, the stamina and the determination of millions of fighting men on the battlefields all around the world and the ardent, laborious efforts of millions of citizens at home, to build, arm, support and transport those troops to finally bring that hell to and end.
May 8 and the upcoming VJ (Victory over Japan) Day on August 15 give us yet another opportunity to remember the sacrifices that the WWII generation made to fight back tyranny and to insure the continuation of democracy and freedom. There is no telling what we might be living like today, if they had failed. Their victory represents the most powerful statement of the human desire to be free in all of history. This is the reason that we call them the Greatest Generation.
Please, during this time when we are fighting another kind of battle against an invisible force, the COVID-19 pandemic, reflect on the values and virtues that our fathers and mothers, or grandfathers and grandmothers had the courage and the fortitude to defend in those years of bloody conflict. Remember how they won because they stuck together, supported and defended one another. These same virtues and values are what we need today.
The Veterans site offers its deepest respect and thanks to the Greatest Generation for their examples of courage and determination in the face of the Nazi and Japanese efforts to deprive the world of freedom. They taught us the truth, that freedom isn’t free. We must honor their memory with our own lives and commitment to protecting the rights and freedoms that this country gives to each one of us. We must remember and honor all those who fought and died defending the most noble of human desires, our freedom.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.