Today is the 69th anniversary of D-Day, the largest amphibious assault in world history.
Under intense German fire, combined Allied forces stormed Omaha, Juno and Sword beaches, many dying as the bombardment shattered their landing craft to shreds, others killed or maimed from incessant machine gun fire.
Once ashore, they inched up the beach, slowly advancing, pushing back the German forces while others behind enemy lines prepared the way, holding the advance of enemy reinforcements.
Relatively few are still alive who fought that day and on as they pushed their way into the heart of Germany. Those who are can still barely talk about it, the memories of battle, of buddies killed before their eyes, of innocence lost forever still fresh as though it were still happening before their eyes.
It was an awful battle - more awful than anyone could describe. Movies and books try, but when you look into the eyes of someone who has seen war, listen to the halting, hesitant voice of someone who struggles to talk about it, when you see a normally rock-hard hand shake, then you can start to understand how bad it really was.
We owe our freedom not just as a country but as a civilization to those who jumped, swam and crawled ashore this day nearly seven decades ago. Without their sacrifice - many giving the ultimate - we would not enjoy the freedoms we now have.
So let us take time today to honor them, to hold up their memories as something to which we should all aspire as a country and as a people.
Because without them, we would not be where and who we are today.