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D-Day Veterans: My Heroes (by Jonita Barram)

Image from Sue Whicker

On July 3rd, 2011 at 6pm, our church will present “A Tribute to America’s Heroes.”  This special program will honor some specific individuals from our church and community who are truly heroic.  To get us thinking about the heroes in our lives several of our blog authors are writing about their heroes.

Hero = “a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities”; “one that shows great courage”; “an object of extreme admiration and devotion”

The summer of 1988, my parents were working at the Greater Lisbon Christian Academy in Portugal, and my younger sister was with them as a teacher. I was in transition between teaching at the King’s Academy in West Palm Beach and going to work for Regular Baptist Press. So my parents flew me to Portugal, and we took a road trip to Great Britain, Spain, and France.

Our trip took us to Normandy, France, where we visited the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Omaha Beach, the Pointe du Hoc Ranger Memorial, and the Airborne Museum. Everywhere we went, we read of the heroism of American military personnel. We read statistics and names. We looked at personal items. We read notes and letters and looked at photographs. I realized that real men had fought and died.

It Was a “God Thing”
I am not sure if it was at Omaha Beach or Pointe du Hoc, but we visited the top of a cliff and walked through a concrete bunker where German soldiers clearly had the advantage. The Americans, on the other hand, reached the top of the cliff from the sea only to be open targets for the German guns. As I stood there that day, I realized that only God could have given the Allies the victory. From a human standpoint, the
Germans should have won.

Normandy American Cemetery
The Normandy American Cemetery covers 172 acres and seems like a sea of white crosses and stars of David. Nine thousand three hundred and eighty-six (9,386) American war dead are buried there, with 307 of them unknown. The remains of approximately 14,000 others were originally buried in the region but were returned to the US by request of their next of kin. I remember a part of the memorial that lists those missing in action and presumed dead—1,557 names. But they weren’t just names. None of those nearly 25,000 men were just names. They were all flesh-and-blood people with eternal souls, with hopes and dreams and weaknesses and fears like the rest of us.

When I think about what they went through because they believed in freedom and in our country, I consider every last one of them a hero.

Pointe du Hoc
Among all those heroes stands out the 2nd Ranger Battalion under the command of Col. James E. Rudder. The morning of D-Day, June 6, 1944, they scaled a 100-foot cliff to seize a fortified enemy position that controlled the landing approaches to Omaha and Utah beaches. The battalion lost more than 50 percent of its men! Col. Rudder himself was wounded twice during the course of the fighting. In spite of this, the rangers
dug in and fought off German counterattacks for two days. They helped to successfully establish a beachhead for the Allied forces.

These are my heroes!

Full Circle
Remember my missionary heroes? Well, many of those men served in WWII, came home and took Bible training, and then went out as missionaries to be heroes again taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Other ‘Heroes’ Posts: