Turning the tide: Remembering D-Day after 75 years

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Posted 6/5/19

It was the beginning of the end of World War II in the European Theater. It had been two years in planning, training and supplying leading up to its launch on June 6, 1944. President Roosevelt, Prime …

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Turning the tide: Remembering D-Day after 75 years

Posted

It was the beginning of the end of World War II in the European Theater. It had been two years in planning, training and supplying leading up to its launch on June 6, 1944.

President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had agreed at a conference in Tehran in November 1943 to open a second front in Europe. That could force Nazi deployment of soldiers and materiel away from the Russian front.

The Nazis knew it was coming, but they didn’t know if it would be at Pas-de-Calais or Normandy on the northern coast of France across the English Channel from England. Perhaps, they considered, Allied troops would land in Norway.

D-Day invasion at the Normandy coast

The beaches at Normandy, France were the target of the D-Day invasion which proved to be the largest military invasion in history. Nazi General Erwin Rommel had been put in charge of fortifications along a 2,400 mile stretch of Atlantic Ocean coastline - the “Atlantic Wall”.

Rommel surmised that the Allied forces would hit Normandy. Adolph Hitler, who had the final say, was convinced it would be Calais. Fortunately for invading Allied forces, Nazi forces and equipment were not as strong as they could have been at Normandy due to Hitler’s error.

It didn’t hurt that Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower had ordered deceptive tactics leading up to the massive assault — tactics such as fake equipment, a phantom army commanded by General George Patton, double agents and fraudulent radio transmissions all played a part in luring a portion of German resources to Calais.

Largest military invasion ever

Originally, Eisenhower had selected June 5 as the launch date, but foul weather forced it to the following day. More than 160,000 Allied troops initially landed along the 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline. An armada of 2,500 ships, 500 naval vessels and 3,000 landing craft crossed the English Channel landing at five designated beach areas in Normandy.

American troops especially sustained high casualties on Omaha Beach, but succeeded in getting control of their section of beach working their way inland. More than 13,000 aircraft supported the invasion.

Without a doubt, the D-Day invasion turned the tide for Allied forces and put the Nazis on the run. By the end of June that year, the Allies had seized the vital port of Cherbourg, had landed approximately 850,000 troops and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were poised to march across France and into Germany.

D-Day proved to be successful in driving the Nazis back retreating over the next 11 months until they surrendered. While Hitler launched a large counter attack in Belgium in the winter of 1944 known as The Battle of the Bulge, Allied troops prevailed and the war ended in May 1945.

However, a heavy price was paid with more than 9,000 Allied soldiers being killed or wounded on the beaches.

Paying the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom

Allied forces included Americans, Brits, French and Canadians joined with soldiers from several other countries and their sacrifice, courage and determination will always be held in awe. These heroes included veterans of other battles along with teenagers who were green when it came to killing the enemy. They fought for the freedom of Britain, France and the rest of Western Europe. But they also fought for the freedom and safety of America and the rest of the free world to be rid of Nazi-tyranny.

Too many young soldiers, sailors, marines, and pilots paid the ultimate price so that we would be able to enjoy our freedom today. Generations later on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, those of us who are the beneficiaries of their efforts throughout the free world are beholden to them.

We salute you and thank you for your inspiring heroism. May we never forget you or what you accomplished.

No boating or water skiiing on Standley Lake

If you were planning on boating and water skiing on Standley Lake this summer, you best look elsewhere.

City staff worked with interested groups, like the Standley Lake Boating Taskforce and Friends of Standley Lake, to find a viable solution but seems to have failed at least for this season. According to a May 22 statement on the City of Westminster’s web site, “Based on the current evaluation of solutions, opening the lake to trailered boats in 2019 is unlikely and continues to be dependent on identifying a solution that does not compromise water quality.”

The Friends group had proposed a boat tagging system that could prevent permit tampering and control lake access. However, the city’s taskforce did not endorse the plan due to additional questions that warranted further review. When in doubt, don’t implement something that warrants further detailed scrutiny.

School safety funding evolves into power play

There seems to be a power play evolving over the Douglas County Commissioners’ offer of $20 million in one-time money to address student safety at Douglas County School District.

It was apparent at the May 28 Board of County Commissioners’ meeting that school board members felt short changed on the decision-making.

The commissioners had formed two nine member committees to address physical safety at the schools as well as mental health. School officials thought they were slighted on representation on the respective committees. Also, the commissioners offered $3 million per year to beef up the number of school resource officers (SRO’s) in the schools. This funding was conditioned on the school district matching the $3 million. As pointed out by school officials, their budget had been adopted and set earlier in the year for the 2019-20 school year.

School district deserves more of a say

It seems that the board of county commissioners could back-off somewhat in their position on these school matters. While their offering of county funds to help address school and community issues is commendable, it would seem that the school district should have a stronger voice on the committees. After all, it will be the school district which implements and carries on whatever is decided.

Furthermore, the county should be open to a phased-in approach on the funding to incrementally increase the number of SRO’s in the schools. Let’s not make this a political power play.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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