The bravery and sacrifice of the Americans who stormed the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago today is difficult for most of us today to truly grasp. Those soldiers, sailors and Marines took part in the D-Day invasion knowing they were going into a hell in which their lives would forever be changed even if they survived the attack on the German forces.

At 6:30 a.m. on June 6, 1944, the amphibious invasion by 156,000 Allied forces began. American troops captured Utah Beach relatively quickly but U.S. forces faced heavy resistance at Omaha Beach, where over 2,000 Americans died. More than 4,000 Allied troops lost their lives in the D-Day invasion, with thousands more wounded.

Those numbers, however, don’t paint a picture of the fear and brutality the American and Allied forces faced as the gates on the amphibious troop carriers were opened in the ocean and the soldiers and Marines jumped into the water to hit the beach.

Those storming Omaha Beach faced gun fire and bombs from the Germans above the beach. It was horrific scene that went on and on.

It was a day that the nobody should ever have to endure again.

Yet, the sacrifices made that day by the Allied troops were necessary. The Normandy invasion began to turn the tide of World War II against the Nazis.

As we recall D-Day today and honor those who risked their lives or had their lives taken, we must ponder the sacrifices — even little ones — that each of us make for the good of others.

 Those who serve in the military today still put their lives on the line daily. No, it’s not in such an apocalyptic setting as Omaha Beach, but their consequences — death — are just as real.

Police officers, firefighters and other emergency personal in America also put their lives at risk.

But sacrifice goes beyond risking lives. It can mean giving up some of our personal comfort or wealth. It can be ceding our own needs to help others.

Given what those brave Americans did 75 years ago today to preserve the freedom we now enjoy, anything we do falls far short.

Still, we can honor them by  serving others and continuing to work to keep the United States a free nation.

The incredible sacrifices made on June 6, 1944, can never be fully repaid, but we should honor and remember those who fought and died for the nation we have today.    

Editorials are the opinion of the Union-Bulletin's Editorial Board. The board is composed of Brian Hunt, Rick Eskil, James Blethen and Alasdair Stewart

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