Local D-Day ceremony commemorates one of the most important days in history
In commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day on Thursday, June 6, members of Shelby County Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8904 and the Post Auxiliary held a ceremony attended by about 20 people on the grounds of the Historic 1885 Shelby County Courthouse.
“We are here today to commemorate the 75th anniversary of one of the most important days in our history,” Hume said. “It's commonly known as D-Day, code name Operation Overlord, D-Day was the turning point in World War II.”
The June 6, 1944 invasion was the largest air and sea operation in military history and it remains so today, he said.
“On D-Day, the Allies landed around 156,000 troops, which 73,000 were Americans,” Hume said. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 airplanes were involved in the attack.
The invasion by Allied Forces included about 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy.
After years of meticulous planning and seemingly endless training for the troops, the Allied forces it came down to this — the boat ramp goes down, then they jump, swim, run, crawl to the cliffs.
“Many of first young men, many not yet 20 years old, enter the surf carrying 80 pounds of equipment and they raced over 200 yards to the beach,” he said. Many never made it out of the surf alive as Nazi troops opened fire.
“When it was over the Allied forces had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties,” Hume said. He said there are no official numbers but those sacrifices allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to advance into France and march across Europe to defeat Hitler.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”
Robert Hughes placed a commemorative wreath on the War Memorial on the historic courthouse grounds while the ceremony closed with the playing of Taps by Gene Hutto.
Hume said among those who fought on the beaches of Normandy, France were at least 14 troops from Shelby County. Those included Nolan Anderson, Richard D. Bray, Maron L. Brittain, Fred D. Dry, Hulen M. Hardage, James R. Kirkland, Charles L. Mims, Marlin D. Manshack, John W. Minter, Arlen R. Rhame, Pershing Pate, Jack T. Powell, Sidney E. Watson and E.C. White.
Attendees at the ceremony read the names of local soldiers involved in order to keep the memory of their sacrifices alive, Hume said.
For photo gallery from the June 6 commemoration of D-Day's 75th anniversrary, please click below: