Friday, 6 June 2014

D-Day: Seventy years on

Today, as we mark the seventieth anniversary of D-Day and pay homage to those who gave their lives on land, sea and in the air to bring about the beginning of the end of war in Europe, we pay tribute to all those who took part in that day and remain, proud and standing still.

We reflect upon the actions of all those brave men who piloted gliders into battlefield, jumped from aircraft and ran onto beaches laden with mines and into the face of machine gun fire: Those who ferried them to the conflict in the air and on the sea. We remember the women who were also present and providing medical support not far behind them too.

Today does not glorify war* - but it does remember the courage and sacrifice of many to rescue our island from the threat of conquest and repel the invaders from mainland Europe (something that took another 337 days of conflict) and bring peace. And we must remember that peace is something that rarely comes without a price - and that price was, in this action, over 4,087 allied lives (plus an unknown number of Germans) and more than 10,000 wounded.

Today, as I take part in the commemoration and remembrance of that day seventy years ago I offer a prayer of thanks for those whose selfless commitment, courage (and that's what it takes to run onto any battlefield) and patriotism have given me the freedom I, and all around me, enjoy.

For those who remain, my respect, admiration and thanks are yours.

For those who have gone - on, or from, the field of conflict or subsequently: May you rest in peace and rise again in glory.

And a prayer that was said by the Free French Commandos as they approached the beaches - one which might serve us well each day of our lives:

'Lord, I shall be very busy today. I may forget about You, but do not Thou forget about me.'

*take a look at the Omaha beach scene from 'Saving Private Ryan' to see how awful war is!

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