The 80th anniversary of D-Day

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The 80th anniversary of D-Day

Remembering and emulating our heroes

June 6, 2024 -

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

On this day in 1944, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the go-ahead for the largest amphibious military operation in history. Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of northern France, is commonly known as D-Day. Some 155,000 troops successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches; within three months, the northern part of France was freed, preparing the way for the invasion force to enter Germany.

On this day, 4,414 Allied troops were killed and more than 5,000 were wounded. During the twelve-week Battle of Normandy that followed, some 73,000 were killed and 153,000 wounded.

President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will join other world leaders for today’s commemorations. Dozens of World War II veterans are expected to return to Normandy’s beaches, many perhaps for the last time.

What gave our heroes the courage to fight so sacrificially and bravely?

They were fighting for their country and for their families back home. They were fighting for freedom for all mankind. And they were fighting for each other as brothers united in the most terrifying battle of their lives.

How can their resolve strengthen our own?

China is preparing attacks on our infrastructure

The US faces a rising three-theater threat today in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the conduct of war. The likelihood of space warfare with Russia and China is escalating. And the US military’s new cyber chief is warning that China’s hacking network is seeking to “pre-position” for future attacks on our critical infrastructure.

As we face such mounting threats, however, many Americans no longer believe in the country for which our WWII heroes fought and died. As I have been writing this week, it is conventional wisdom in elite schools and culture that our nation was founded by racists and colonizers for the purpose of advancing their personal fortunes at the expense of those they oppressed. This warped history robs younger generations of faith in their country and their future.

The consequences are severe:

  • Young people are now the least happy generation in America.
  • The number of college students diagnosed with PTSD has more than doubled.
  • Our teenagers are experiencing a mental health crisis as depression, self-harm, and suicide continue to rise among American adolescents.

Consequently, you and I need to fight for our families and children as our Normandy heroes fought for us, with the same resolve, courage, and sacrifice they demonstrated.

Your influence in our culture is your mission field. If you surrender daily to the power of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), he will use your gifts and manifest the “fruit” of his character (Galatians 5:22–23) in your life as the salt and earth we need so desperately (Matthew 5:13–16).

But we must see our cultural mission for what it is: a battle against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). This is a war we can win only on our knees.

“Since I met you, I’m not afraid to die”

Here’s the good news: God can redeem crisis by using it to show us our need for his omnipotent power and omnibenevolent grace.

Historians estimate that as many as ten percent of all Civil War soldiers converted to Christ during the conflict. The wreckage of the Korean War sparked a spiritual movement in South Korea that escalated into a fifth great awakening circling the globe.

A dear friend from Dallas is in Normandy today to take part in the anniversary commemoration there. He sent me a poem written by an unknown paratrooper prior to parachuting into German territory in 1944. In it, that young hero prayed:

They told me You didn’t exist,
And, like a fool, I believed all this.

However, he saw the sky from a shell hole, realized that God is real, and wrote:

Funny, I had to come to this hellish place
Before I had time to see Your face.

He continued:

Look now, this will be a horrible fight,
Who knows, I may come to Your home tonight.
Though I wasn’t friendly to You before,
I wonder, God, if You will wait at Your door.

And he closed:

Look, I’m crying! Me, shedding tears!
I wish I had known You all those years.
Well God, I have to go now, so goodbye.
Strange, since I met You, I’m not afraid to die.

“Dogs that do not bark”

The solemnity and significance of today’s historical events call us to renew our commitment to praying and working for our nation’s spiritual rebirth. C. S. Lewis warned:

“A sign of a culture that has lost its faith—Moral collapse follows upon spiritual collapse.”

By contrast, spiritual awakening will spark moral awakening and a new day for this nation we love and for whom so many have died.

The eighth-century English Benedictine monk St. Boniface challenged us:

Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. . . . Let us preach the whole of God’s plan to the powerful and to the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season.

In this battle for our spiritual and cultural future, will you be a “silent onlooker” or will you “preach the whole of God’s plan” today?

Thursday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“I will work as if everything depended on me; I will pray as if everything depended on God.” —St. Augustine

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