June 6th will be the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion. More than 150,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on 50 miles of heavily fortified coast line. After years of war and months of planning, the combined Allied forces launched a navel, air and land assault against Hitler’s German Army to liberate northwest Europe from Nazi occupation.
In the early morning hours of June 6th, 1944- Allied paratroopers and gliders carrying infantry, were the first to reach the invasion point. Hours later, as the sun rose, German sentries would be stunned to see the huge armada of Allied ships offloading ground troops, brave individuals who gave the supreme sacrifice to free Europe from the Nazi death grip. The average age of these heroic fighting men was 20 years. Allied losses in the early days of the invasion totaled 4500 and would skyrocket to over 226,000 by the end of August 1944. “Operation Overlord” would later become known as the beginning of the end of World War II. By April of 1945, Hitler will have committed suicide and shortly after, the Germany army would surrender.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, just over 400,000 are still alive today. Four hundred WWII Veterans die every day. It’s estimated that in ten years, there will only be 1000 WWII Veterans still alive. The “Greatest Generation” is slowly leaving us. And with then, goes a vital part of our history. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The people are the ultimate guardians of their own liberty. History, by apprising them of the past, will enable them to judge of the future. It will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men.”
Although the White Pine Public Museum is small, we pride ourselves on providing our community a unique look back in time. We strive to teach, as well as entertain. We hope to give a glimpse back into the history of our nation, that those who seek, will pass on to others what they have learned. A wise man once said, “Those who don’t know history, are destined to repeat it.”
Memorial Day is a time to honor those servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives for others. Thank You for your service.