The air was cool as the hour approached 10 last night. I stepped through my door and out to be under the summer sky. There were no stars. Clouds blocked their view. I pulled up a lawn chair, pulled a cigar from my pocket and a book of matches from another.
Darkness was all around. The orange glow of the foot was my only illumination. Though my eyes were dimmed, my ears were alive.
The sounds of God greeted me. The noise of man faded at the hour, replaced by the steady calls of His creation.
Peace. Calm. Rejuvenation and release of worry and woe.
I thought of the day, my life. Not the day to come or the concerns about work, responsibility and other demands.
I thought of the moment and thanked God for the gift. Then I thanked Him for those who made possible this time for tranquility.
Nearly 70 years ago, men many of which were far younger than myself at the time, took part in the largest amphibious invasion in world history.
More than 160,000 troops participated in the the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944. Today is the anniversary of the sacrifice that changed the world.
Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in more than 5,000 ships converged to bring a fight like none other to the Fuhrer on land that was not his to conquer.
The success of D-Day was a death knell for the Germans and brought a quick end to Adolf Hitler's plan for the thousand year rein of the Third Reich.
The success of D-Day forced Hitler to fight a two-front war against the Russians on the East and the Americans, British, Canadians, and French on the West. Within a year, the German leader committed suicide, ending the war in Europe.
The cost was great. The number of Allied combat casualties on D-Day is approximated at 10,000.
The men who fought for this land, for the hopes of free people everywhere, knew of the dire risks.
Yet they persevered.
They had a steadfast commitment to serve, to fight, and in so many cases, to die, to preserve America and advance the ideals we cherish.
Their sacrifice was nothing short of saving the world.
Of the invasion, General Dwight D. Eisenhower told those young boys, "You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely....The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory. Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."
On this day, this anniversary of such a unimaginable sacrifice, I give thanks for every moment of peace and freedom that I am so privileged to enjoy.
If it were not for these men, as well as those who sacrificed before and who have sacrificed since, I would not have been able to enjoy the evening air as a free man.
No group has ever done more to defend liberty than the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Their bravery has done more than simply win battles. It has done more than win wars. It has secured a way of life for our country.
These heroes and their families should be in our thoughts and prayers on a daily basis, and they should receive our loving thanks at every possible opportunity.
Thank you to those who fight for me, those who die for me.
And as I came back inside, pulled the covers around my daughter and kissed her sleeping cheek, I made a promise: I will remember them. Always.