Friday, June 2, 2023

The Greatest Sacrifice

"You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. 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.Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking." General Dwight Eisenhower delivered these remarks to the Allied troops immediately before the D-Day invasion. This upcoming week we observe the anniversary of D-Day on June 6. It's hard to overstate the significance of this day and its implications for the world and the Jewish People in particular. For years, the Nazis had occupied nearly all of Europe, including France. The occupation deprived the Allies of opening a Western front to fight the Nazis. Hitler was clear about his ambitions to make the world Judenrein (free of Jews). Had Germany prevailed in World War Two, there would likely be no Jews left today. It is with that context that D-Day must be understood. The D-Day operation of June 6, 1944, brought together the Allied armies' land, air, and sea forces in what became known as the largest amphibious invasion in military history. The Nazis were well prepared for the Allied invasion. To prepare for an invasion, in 1942, Germany began construction on the Atlantic Wall, a network of bunkers, pillboxes, mines, and landing obstacles up and down the French coastline. The Allies, composed of American, British, and Canadian troops, finally stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The Germans were ready for the Allies and put up a strong initial resistance. Over 9,000 Allied troops were killed in the first 24 hours on the Beaches of Normandy. Eventually, the Allied forces overwhelmed the Nazis and started the battle to liberate Europe from the Nazis. Today the Normandy American Cemetery, sited on a bluff high above the coast, is one of the world's best-known military memorials. These hallowed grounds preserve the remains of nearly 9,400 Americans who died during the Allied liberation of France. The Jewish People, in particular, will remain forever grateful for the greatest sacrifice these troops made in blood and treasure. With the help of G-d, these troops died by the thousands, so we can live to see another day. In an era where terms of sacrifice and dedication are cheapened, it's worth reflecting on how the Allied troops' sacrifice literally changed the world's trajectory. Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

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