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Reflections on Memorial Day

Laurie and I recently got to spend the day in Normandy, walking the hallowed ground where American, English and Canadian soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice on June 6, 1944. We were honored to observe the playing of taps at the American Cemetery in memory of the men buried on the grounds.

Our troops attacked the beaches at Utah and Omaha as well as Point du Hoc while the English landed at Gold and Sword and the Canadian troops at Juno beach. About 18,000 men of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and the British 6th Airborne Divisions were dropped behind enemy lines that morning to establish crossings and capture exits to help merge the beachheads. It's difficult to come up with accurate records but an acceptable figure is slightly over 10,000 for Allied losses on D-Day.

You can see walking the two beaches, Utah and Omaha how the casualties would be dramatically different. Utah a long beach, not easy to defend had roughly 200 casualties. Omaha was a totally different story, the casualties on the first day range from 2-4,000. The cigar chomping General Cota, played by Robert Mitchum in "The Longest Day," had a vital role that day. The wall he broke through was designed at an angle so soldiers could not hide behind it and were easy prey from the German elevated position. At Point Du Hoc 225 American Rangers scaled a mountain side with Germans at the top, 90 of these valiant men reached the top.

Other than the memorials, pill boxes and statues the beaches are calm now. Children play on the sand and in the water like a scene from any California beach. The actual Point at Point Du Hoc collapsed the day we were visiting, and officials are looking at it trying to find a way to shore up the mountain before it's gone! But these and other sacrifices made by our men and women are not forgotten by our Allies in Europe. On May 4 and 5 in the Netherlands, there are huge Memorial and Liberation Day celebrations. In France May 8, victory in Europe Day is a national holiday. It is important on this day to remember the sacrifices made by our troops not only in WWII but throughout our history. It is the sacrifice of these few that has guaranteed the freedom of the rest of us!

Marty Pay has been the local Farmers Agent for over 32 years. His office and staff are at 212 W. F St. and his office phone number is (661) 822-3737.