Posted by: Brad Nixon | June 6, 2014

Let Despots Remember the Day

Today is an anniversary. That event and the circumstances surrounding it were still fresh in the minds of countless people around the world when I was born seven years and two months later. June 6, 2014 is the 70th anniversary of the landings at Normandy: D-Day.

I can’t add anything to what’s known about that day, the events leading up to it or the consequences. I can only add my voice in solemn remembrance. It’s difficult for people from later generations to imagine the dire state of the world on that day: most of Europe controlled by Nazi armies, Britain in its fourth year of bombardment, terrible battles being fought inch-by-inch in the Pacific. That day was long in coming, and it wasn’t nearly the end of things, but it was, at last, the beginning of the end. Most of my readers are of a generation that remembers or grew up with those who remember, and I know you’re thinking many of the same thoughts as I am today.

I met some who were there that day. Today, perhaps, those who are still here will tell you about what they did and what they saw. It hasn’t always been that way. It behooves us to remember.

No one of sound mind wants war, but years of appeasement and ignorance and willful blindness preceded the Normandy landings, and they were long overdue. Terrible things had already happened and more terrible times followed. But it was a day of enormous accomplishment, with a plan of vast scope and complexity, resulting in the largest amphibious invasion ever staged, accompanied by many casualties.

So, let’s remember.

I’d like to remember the day with music. I’ve struck this theme before, but join me in watching the U.S. Army Field Band playing the official National March of the United States, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

The composer John Philip Sousa wrote the music and lyrics of this piece in 1896. Then, he could scarcely have imagined the scale of destruction and terror that war would bring in the next century, but he lived to see it during WWI, re-entering the service in 1917 at age 54. For our friends around the world who had countrymen on the beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword and Juno that June day in 1944, this isn’t a national remembrance, but an international one, because it wasn’t a victory by one country, but all countries. I don’t hold much with the veneration of flags and emblems, so let’s focus on the line of Sousa’s lyrics introduces the final passage: “Let despots remember the day.”

Click on the link for the performance:

The Stars and Stripes Forever

Here is the final verse, sung by the chorus in that recording (they sing “tyrants” rather than “despots”):

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Truly, let us remember the day. And let despots remember it, too.

Copyright 2014, Brad Nixon



  1. Let the despots remember it, too.

    Nicely handled Brad Nixon!

    – TJ


  2. Our former senior pastor, Rev. Norfleet Jones, (grandfather of Chipper Jones, ballplayer) was one of the G.I.’s to hit the beach under heavy gunfire. when you hear him tell the account, you feel like you are there with the young guys hardly out of high school, watching your friends get blown apart. He became a minister after leaving the armed forces, never forgetting that experience.


  3. I went to Normandy in 1994 for the 50th anniversary. Actually, I was there in May, just before the festivities in June. I stayed in Bayeaux, a village famous for the Bayeaux Tapestry, a long woven scroll from some 900 years ago that recounts the “Reverse Normandy Invasion” of 1066 (Normandy to England).

    The crosses in the Normandy beach cemeteries face West, towards the U.S.A. These cemeteries were granted by France to America in perpetuity after WW II, and thus are actually U.S. land. It’s really an overwhelming sight to see this in person. This is especially true, if you know a relative who fought there. In my case, my uncle Phillip (forward infantry recon unit) fought in Normandy, a few days after the initial landing, in the Battle of the Hedge Rows, in upper NW Normandy. He made it through the battle for France, but was killed in the Battle of the Bulge, in Belgium, January, 1945, only 5 months before WW II ended.

    My dad used to talk about Phil, as well as his other brother Brad, a sergeant in the Air Force, who was killed over the skies of Europe in WWII. The three brothers were very close, as they were orphans before they joined the armed forces after Pearl Harbor.

    Thanks for your remembrance, Brad.


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