Thursday, June 5, 2014

D-Day at 70; Missing Reagan for 10

D-Day at 70; Missing Reagan for 10
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 5, 2014

“We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.”

Former President Ronald Reagan spoke those words on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1984, at the site of the US Ranger Monument, Pointe du Hoc, on the northern coast of France. In addition to his riveting speech, Reagan unveiled plaques to memorialize the 2nd and 5th US Army Ranger Battalions, then, he and his wife, Nancy, personally greeted each of the veterans.

“These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war,” continued Reagan.

Thirty years later, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, there are precious few of those heroes still with us. They must and will be remembered for their actions that saved a continent from falling into the hands of a certain few deviant slaughterers hell bent on sterilizing the planet in their own warped images. These heroes are part of the much vaunted “Greatest Generation” – dedicated to a cause greater than themselves.

The landing at Omaha Beach and four other locales over a 50 mile span was the beginning of the end of the European segment of World War II. On this date 156,000-plus American, British, and Canadian troops hit hard the shores of those five beaches – initially suffering unprecedented casualties prior to wresting control from Nazi Germany.

Over 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft participated in the invasion where more than 4,000 Allied soldiers were killed and another 5,000 were wounded within the immediacy of the landings. This was a heavy price to pay, but was the turning point in defeating Hitler, Nazism, and Fascism.

From the time of the D-Day landing through late August 1944, the Allied troops liberated northern France, including Paris. By May 1945, the Allies defeated Nazi Germany and the Axis powers of Europe.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you,” said Reagan in the 1984 speech.

Drafted into the Army shortly after the United States entered the war in December 1941, Reagan was not permitted to the front lines due to his near-sightedness. Instead, Reagan worked for the Motion Picture Army Unit producing training and propaganda films. For my impressions of Ronald Reagan: 

“Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died,” concluded Reagan who died, ironically, June 5, 2004, one day prior to the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

May we and future generations never forget the sacrifices made by the brave soldiers on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and may the losses of those who made the ultimate sacrifice not have been in vain.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.


  1. Perhaps you can refresh our memories. Did Reagan make these statements before or after he honored SS war dead?

    I'm not all that sure "remembering" a politician who traded weapons to Islamic terrorists for in exchange for hostages is the most appropriate way to honor those, including many nearsighted American soldiers, who died at Normandy.

    Surely remembering FDR who steered our nation towards victory is more appropriate, at least in the eyes of those veterans among us.

    1. Mark, thanks for reading my column, and for taking the time to comment.
      Reagan, sadly, visited Bitburg Cemetery in 1985, and during the same trip, also visited Bergen-Belsen. A huge Reagan supporter, I was so disappointed in this decision by Reagan to go to Bitburg, I, then a college freshman, wrote a letter and petition, signed by more than 660 students in a 24-hour period.
      Weapons for hostages was an egregious mistake. Find me a president who made no mistakes.
      As for FDR steering the US toward victory, I beg to differ. He clung to American neutrality for as long as possible, entering the war only after Pearl Harbor. FDR had opportunity after opportunity to save refugee Jews, who ultimately were turned away ad back to certain death. FDR also made no move to bomb either the death camps or he trains, even after being given accurate information about the goings on there.
      Credit for winning WWII goes to President Harry Truman for ending the war quicker than it might have ended with the use of the two atomic bombs. FDR didn't even restore/revive the economy with his socialist Ne Deal - that cure came via the war. (I do give FDR credit for FDIC.)