Today we commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the launch of Operation Overlord and the allied armies’ push to free Western Europe from Nazi Germany in World War II. On June 6, 1944, roughly 133,000 troops from the United States, Great Britain and Canada crossed the English Channel, landed in Normandy, France and embarked upon the largest amphibious invasion of all time.

The allies landed on five beaches with the code names Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The undertaking was massive. The soldiers’ mission was clear. And their courage prevailed over fear.

General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, planned and supervised the invasion.

In a message he wrote and recorded to the Allied Forces, General Eisenhower encouraged his men to fight bravely, reminding them of the importance of their enterprise.

“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months,” General Eisenhower said.

The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world…

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Gen. Eisenhower concluded his letter by wishing the troops “Good Luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

You can read the general’s letter in full below:

You can also listen to a recording of General Eisenhower’s message below:

On the 40th anniversary of D-Day, former President Ronald Reagan gave profound and moving remarks at Pointe du Hoc, France, commemorating the invasion of Normandy.

Standing atop the cliffs of Point du Hoc, President Reagan reflected on the bravery of 225 Rangers, the “boys of Pointe du Hoc,” who jumped from British landing craft, ran to the bottom of the cliffs, scaled them and took out the German’s guns on D-Day. Two days after the offensive, only 90 of the Rangers could still bear arms.

“These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war,” President Reagan proclaimed, speaking before some of the surviving soldiers of that day.

You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here?

We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love. …

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for.

On this 80th anniversary of D-Day, we remember the great sacrifices made by many men on that fateful day. We know that thousands made the ultimate sacrifice – willfully giving up their lives for their nation, and for the freedom of the world.

And we strive to be faithful citizens, to live up to our duty to live holy and respectable lives, thereby honoring the price paid by these great men.

Faith, freedom, and our families are all worth dying for. But they are also worth living for.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, ESV).

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