“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” -Matthew 5:9
In June of 1944, the continent of Europe was covered in a cloud of oppression and darkness. Starting on March 12, 1938 the German Third Reich moved into Austria and began a campaign to conquer and occupy their neighbors and much of Europe and North Africa. Before long, all of the world was at war. Countries began the work of arming themselves. Men and women left home, work and families to enlist in the military. By December of 1941, the United States had entered the war and soon we would be fighting in the Pacific, in the deserts of Africa, and in Italy.
By June of 1944, the United States and other countries had already lost hundreds of thousands of lives. The death toll was significant, and yet the allied invasion of France had not yet taken place. The German defense of France was almost insurmountable. To land soldiers in the occupied territory and hold the ground would come at a great cost. It was unavoidable. To secure freedom and restore the homes and rightful governments of the people of occupied Europe would require bravery and sacrifice on a significant scale. On June 6, 1944, 75 years ago today, sailors, soldiers and airmen from twelve allied nations joined together to land on the beaches of France and liberate the people of Europe.
By the end of the first day some over 4,000 Allied troops had died with another 9,000 wounded or missing. Over 4,000 German soldiers died that day, as well. It was the largest seaborn invasion in history. The Allied forces were successful. They took the beaches and much ground inland and were able to hold it from the formidable German forces. Today, we understand the necessity of this task, but we also measure this success against the terrible loss of life that came as a result of the D-Day invasion.
Now, 75 years later, we mark this day with gratitude for those brave men, full of courage, who stormed those beaches in the name of freedom and liberty. We honor them for their bravery and sacrifice. We remember them and give thanks. As President Ronald Regan quoted on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, I share with you the closing of a poem from Steven Spender
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s center.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honor. -The Truly Great
Not only do we mark this day with gratitude, but also let us also take time today to pray for peace in our world. On behalf of those who have bravely fought, in honor of those who have given all, and for those who serve today, let us, as a people of faith, pray for peace in our world.
Merciful and Loving God,
We have seen great war and violence in the world. We confess that our own hearts are not always at peace. Today, on behalf of those who have given so much and lost so much because of war, we pray for peace. We pray that your love and hope would be known in this world. We ask that you stir in our souls the strength and the desire to be peacemakers. Help us, Lord to be a people who no longer make war, but bring all of Your children to Your kingdom, the kingdom of love, joy and peace. Amen.
Rev. Keith King, Online Campus Pastor