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In honor of our veterans from D-Day last week, I’d like to offer my gratitude to those who fought and to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. These veterans were definitely something special and we all could learn some valuable lessons from them.
The Allies expected many wounded soldiers and casualties on D-Day. The Army spent two years planning for medical treatment of the wounded and ordered 30,000 stretchers for the start of the invasion. Everyone from the President to the lowest ranking soldiers knew this day was going to be bloody.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, on the night before the invasion, told his wife, “Do you realize that by the time you wake up in the morning twenty thousand men may have been killed?"
Many areas of the D-Day mission didn’t go as planned. A massive amount of necessary supplies and vehicles never made it to their destinations. Half the Sherman tanks sank in rough waters, drowning all the soldiers inside even before making it to Omaha Beach.
The issues of the airborne troops are still a point of contention with many in the military today. Most airborne soldiers never made it to their planned drop zones and were scattered miles away or were killed.
Only about a third of all paratroopers were under division control after the first day. Many paratroopers were rallied by officers into mishmash units who roamed behind enemy lines for up to five days. These isolated units fighting for their own survival ended up playing an important role in clearing the German resistance.
The Canadians lost the highest ratio of men in the invasion while taking Juno Beach. Even so, they rode inland on bicycles to complete their missions as they didn’t have vehicles.
With approximately 9,000 to 10,000 casualties on day one alone of which 4,440 were dead, the Allies persevered.
What struck me the most was their ability to trudge forward even knowing they might die in a horrific manner. No matter what the loss, no matter what the odds, deadly obstacles and a terrifying enemy didn’t matter. These veterans had a drive to overcome that is becoming rare in today’s times.
Perseverance is an incredible attribute and a valuable life lesson that these veterans demonstrated. It doesn’t guarantee any of us the brass ring, success or even happiness. Yet, look to anyone who is successful or happy, and you can bet that perseverance is a part of them.
Be it in business, faith, family or any other part of life, resolve is paramount to achieving your goals. I wish I had the opportunity to meet many of the men of D-Day as their grit, character and resolve were unsurpassed. They will be missed!
Michael Popowski is President of PBI Restorations. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.