Eighty years. That’s a long time ago. Especially to those who didn’t have parents alive to share their memories of Tuesday June 6, 1944 — D-Day.

Staying abreast of current events has driven me to try to understand more about the past. As a result, I’ve read a great deal on how our country’s Civil War began and the origins of Hitler’s Reich.

The most important thing I’ve learned? We should never forget.

The American Civil War resulted in at least 1,030,000 casualties, according to historians and war statisticians — including the deaths of about 620,000 troops and 50,000 civilians.

This war, fought on our own soil, was the deadliest military conflict in American history (counting both world wars, Korea and Vietnam).

In World War I, the total number of military and civilian casualties was more than 40 million. This estimate includes 20 million deaths and about 21 million wounded. The death total includes 9.7 million military personnel and about 10 million civilians. U.S. military war deaths have been recorded at 117,000. Russia alone lost more than 2 million souls.

How quickly we’ve forgotten one of the deadliest conflicts in human history.

In WWII, some 70-85 million people perished, including about 21 million to 25 million military personnel and 50 million to 55 million civilians, including the deliberate genocide of Jews and others by the Third Reich. Coming late to this global conflict, the U.S. is reported to have had 418,500 total civilian and military deaths. Germany by comparison had between 6.6 million and 8.8 million total deaths.

12626776275?profile=RESIZE_180x180On a recent trip to France, I visited the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach (inset photo). I have no relative buried there, but the significance of that place, and the other beachheads used during the Allied invasion of Normandy, shook me. A total of 4,414 Allied troops were killed on D-Day itself, including 2,501 Americans. More than 5,000 were wounded. In the ensuing Battle of Normandy, 73,000 Allied forces were killed and 153,000 wounded.

These young men (most between 22 and 24 years old) who charged ashore from landing craft or parachuted down behind enemy lines were patriots. True patriots.

Somehow, over the past 80 years, that word’s been muddied behind red, white and blue board shorts and giant American flags — as if the bigger the flag the more patriotism you exude.

Nonsense. Just consider the graves at Omaha Beach and tell me I’m wrong.

How easily we forget.

— Mary Kate Leming,
Executive Editor

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