Tuesday, June 4, 2024


JUNE 2024

The 80th Anniversary of D-Day

By Rev Protodeacon George A. Haloulakos

On June 6th we remember a historic event -- the Allied invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944 (Operation Overlord) -- in which members of the Allied armed forces made the ultimate sacrifice that made possible the survival of human freedom.  For an insightful and inspiring remembrance of D-Day, we invite you to please listen to our 2014 podcast marking the 70th Anniversary of D-Day which provides an in-depth presentation on the backstory, conflict and resolution that offers important takeaways about a watershed event forever shaping the lives of Baby Boomers.  Ten years later, this program features timeless insights for your listening pleasure.

To listen to our 70th anniversary program from 10 years ago, please follow this link:

In gratitude and loving memory, I would like to begin this month's Blog by sharing the following poem written by Stephen Spender as we recall all those who not only participated in D-Day, but everyone who has served in defense of our nation.
"I think continually of those who were truly great.  The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire's center.
Born of the sun, they traveled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honor."

The impact of D-Day has been chronicled in books as well as major motion pictures such as "The Longest Day'' (1962) and "Saving Private Ryan'' (1998).  Yet this major historical event is perhaps best understood, if not appreciated, from a personal perspective.  As a sniff of the cork, here are three personal accounts which illustrate the magnitude of D-Day on this, its 80th Anniversary.

The first and second personal accounts are taken from personal notes recording the remembrance of D-Day by my parents, Dr Vassilios Elias Haloulakos (1931-2019) and Victoria Villarreal Haloulakos (1925-2018).  My father grew up on a farm in the Sparta region of Greece in the midst of World War II, with vivid recollection of the occupation by the Axis powers.  Beginning in 1942, his family was forced to surrender their personal firearms and give up 72% of their foodstuff production while living under severe curfew and restriction on all personal freedoms.  The news of the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 was hailed with enormous gratitude in answer to prayers for deliverance from this occupation.  D-Day marked a resurgence in hope as the American led Allied forces would soon arrive on the shores of the birthplace of Western Civilization to liberate all those who had been subjugated under the boot of the Axis powers.  For my father and all the members of his family, D-Day forever changed their lives as it signaled a restoration of freedom that had been taken away.  My mother, who graduated from high school in a small town in Texas in June 1944, recalls that D-Day not only indicated that the Allies had seized the initiative to secure eventual victory in Europe but that forthcoming deployment of her male classmates who enlisted in the armed services were to be shifted or redirected to the Pacific Theater.  Sadly, the summer of 1944 was bittersweet.  While June was spent celebrating the victorious Allied invasion of Normandy, the mood shifted later that summer as nearly all of her male classmates dispatched to the Pacific were killed in action before the end of September!  For a young female high school graduate preparing to enter the workforce, this was a sobering reminder that the enormous sacrifice on D-Day to create the foundation for eventual victory in Europe, might likely be required again if our nation was to be victorious in the Pacific.

There is an interesting postscript to Mom and Dad's D-Day remembrance.  Forty one years later in 1985, my parents attended a reunion in Mom's hometown in Texas honoring the high school graduates from 1940-45.  It was at this reunion where my father was able to personally express his heartfelt gratitude as he met Mom's older schoolmates from the graduating classes of 1942 and 1943 that included several servicemen who had landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.  It was a profound, deeply emotional moment in time as my father was able to thank his "liberators" who risked it all in the defense of freedom, thereby bringing everyone connected with D-Day full circle after the passage of four decades.

The third and final perspective is one that comes from Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster Vin Scully (1927-2022) who on every June 6th, would incorporate D-Day into the game's broadcast.  Mr. Scully's recollection is especially profound for he along with my parents, and the parents of countless Baby Boomers, were of the age group called upon to sacrifice their lives for the freedoms they had come to cherish.  Scully wanted to impress upon young listeners that D-Day should always be remembered, for it was this ultimate sacrifice that made it possible for the generations that followed to enjoy the pastime of baseball in comfort and freedom.  During his 2015 Dodger broadcast, Scully shared the following with his vast listening audience:
"It was the largest air, land, sea occupation undertaken.  It included over five thousand ships, eleven thousand airplanes, 150,000 servicemen, and it came down to this.  The boat ramp goes down, you jump, swim, run, and crawl to the cliffs.  Many of the first young men were not yet twenty years old, and they entered the surf carrying eighty pounds of equipment.  Many of them drowned.  They faced over two hundred yards of beach before reaching the first natural feature offering any protection at all."  

To this narrative on the enormity of human sacrifice on June 6, 1944, I would add that if we include the cost of human life in rehearsing for D-Day, we find the numbers even higher.  For example, Exercise Tiger carried out just two months before in April 1944 in Devon, England, resulted in costing the lives of at least 749 American servicemen.  In sum, the 80th Anniversary of D-Day is an important event not only in the context of human history, but resonates in the memories of all generations connected with those who lived and/or served while the world was at war.  Do you have any special memories or recollections from your own family records concerning D-Day? If so, please share them by either posting to the Galaxy FACEBOOK page or writing directly to me at: Haloulakos@gmail.com

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