D-DAY 75 YEARS LATER
This past week marked the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landing on the beaches of Normandy by the Allied Expeditionary Force against the occupying Nazi German Army.
In its April 15th edition a few weeks ago America Magazine, the Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture, reprinted its commentary from June 17th, 1944—the first edition to go to print after the D-Day Landing.
One of the points this editorial stressed was the place of public prayer across the country as the news of the invasion of Hitler’s “Fortress Europe” began to break.
When President Roosevelt led the nation in prayer on D-Day’s night, an event unique in modern history took place. Other leaders in centuries past have led their people in prayer, but never has a head of state, to our knowledge, actually taken the lead in saying the prayer that millions of his people were simultaneously whispering in their homes...
For not only did the President officially and publicly put prayer in the first place among our reactions to the invasion; almost every city in the land had its meetings to beg God’s guidance; the great chains broadcast throughout the day prayers by clergymen of the various denominations; small parish churches and cathedrals were thronged throughout the day with streams of praying Americans.
America’s editors also saw a providential coincidence in the date of the invasion with the feast-day of St. Boniface, the “Apostle of Germany”, June 5th. In the 8th Century an English monk had left his monastery in Devon to preach the Gospel among the heathen Germanic tribes. Was it not suggestive of a contemporary parallel? The flotilla of liberation left England on the night of June 5th, (In fact, according to the battle-plan, “D-Day” was supposed to be June 5th. Bad weather delayed it for several hours) to break the power of a new heathenism brought into being by Hitler’s Germany. Would not St. Boniface be an appropriate heavenly patron for the men now fighting in France against the Nazis, America suggested?
If the Allied Force had not been able to breach Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall” on D-Day, it would easily have been another 2 years before another such invasion could have been attempted. As we now know, Hitler was very close to having atomic weapons. If he had been able to introduce those against the Allies…? A very different history would have been written.