June 6, 1944. 0630 hours. English channel., off the coast of Normandy, almost a thousand ships sit, waiting.- The world is at war.
Germany is in a weakened condition, somewhat short on food, oil, and other things, but the Americans, English, Australians, and Canadians have problems of their own. Wading ashore on a beach which was covered in mines, with shells exploding all around them. There are submarines near the beaches, tank obstacles on the beaches, and barbed wire strewn everywhere. As one G.I put it, if you survived the shells and the mines, it was so you could become target practice for small arms.
My grandfather, P.F.C Haney A. Abbott, was to have been the second man off of his landing craft, when, at H-Hour, they would hit Omaha Beach, in the Dog Red sector. The man in front of him however, became frightened, and asked to change places with him. As they surged out of the boats and towards the sea wall, the man who took my grandfather's place, was shattered by an exploding shell.
D-Day has been called one of the most important days in American history. I see it however, as perhaps one of the greatest stories of leadership of all time. From Eisenhower, who wrote out that the mission was all his own failure, before it ever launched, to an officer that could have parachuted with his men when he was wounded, and he would have survived, but chose not to rather than endanger their lives. To stories we will never know, of bravery, and courage, of friendship, of leadership. Of boys, fighting what was perhaps the greatest battle in the history of Christendom. Of young men charging pill-boxes, stepping on mines, and rushing forward even though they knew when they got there they would be blown to bits. All because it had to be done.
The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail,
Andrew C. Abbott