Raising Private Ryan: An Ode to D-Day Soldiers


D-Day: a mom standing with her two kids in front of a monument.

I would die a thousand deaths for my children.

I mean, granted — sometimes I want to throttle them or re-home them.

BUT. [full stop for emphasis]


Without a moment’s hesitation, I’d catch a grenade for them.

I’m basically Bruno Mars for my kids.


And I know you are too.

Because we are moms. Our children are our second selves.


Yet, would I die for faceless strangers a continent away?

[insert uncomfortable laugh]


Fortunately, the fate of the free world does not lie with me.

D-Day History

But 80 years ago on June 6, 1944, the fate of the free world did rest on 160,000 shoulders.

80 years ago, under grey dawn skies, Operation Overlord was executed. Few knew the day nor the hour, which is why the “D” in D-Day means “Day.” (Literal translation. “Day-Day.”) It was all highly classified to prevent an “op” from informing Adolf of the Allied invasion plans.

Even more clever — fake news was deployed to trick Hitler into believing Callais (FR) would be the invasion site. And it worked like a charm! Additional Axis forces were dispatched to Callais in anticipation of the invasion . . . that never came there.

Then, on an unsuspected Tuesday, at 6:30 in the morning, the Allied invasion began in the air and culminated with the infamous storming of the five Normandy beaches.

There, on beaches code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword, and Juno, the greatest amphibious invasion in the history of modern warfare altered the course of the Second World War.

And everything else since.


Though, the cost was great.

2,501 American sons were lost that day alone.

(Though the Battle of Normandy would rage on.)


160,000 brave Allied soldiers rushed towards the enemy. Courage under fire.

73,000 valiant American military endured shelling and artillery fire. Yet fought on.

4,414 heroic Allied troops laid down their lives that day so that others might live.


“Men who in their ‘lives fought for life . . . and left the vivid air signed with [their] honor.’”*

Gosh. Maybe all of June should be in honor of D-Day. In honor of those brave souls who saved the world from fascism. But, that’s just me. I’m a fan of freedom.

So. I’ve resolved to raise my own “Private Ryans.”

A family stands before a war monument.Raising Private Ryans

I want sons and daughters who in their “lives fought for life . . . and [leave] the vivid air signed with [their] honor.”

Please tell me I’m not alone!?

Several years ago, we took our kids to the hallowed beaches of Normandy — the endless stretch of sacred sands that absorbed untold blood, sweat, and tears for the freedom of the West. There, as we stood on Utah Beach, I reminded them that peril met valor. And blessedly lost.

(I always give Churchill-like speeches at war memorials. I am such a good time.)

Finally, a family vacay isn’t complete without a graveyard pilgrimage. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the sacrifice of others which affords us our seasonal Starbucks in peace.

D-Day: a young girl stands in front of a white cross at a grave in the American Cemetery in NormandyThe American Cemetery in Normandy is hallowed ground. If I were queen of the world, I would compel everyone who fancies democracy to visit. My children stood transfixed before the 209,000 graves of brothers in arms: childhood playmates, comrades in battle, fallen brothers at rest. It is sobering.

Debtors to their sacrifice, we are.


And then — of course — the kids got hangry. There was fighting. I was quiet-yelling.

Because they are children of freedom. Blissful benefactors of the Allied sacrifice.


Thank God.


Now, not everyone can drag their family to Normandy. Or wants to. But, we can raise Private Ryans.


I resolve to remind my kids:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”**

Never do nothing. I will rear my children to be noble, valiant, and moral. And I will raise them to be worthy of the cost.

“Greater love has no man than this: That He lays down His life for His friends.”

Join me. I dare you.


*Borrowing from Reagan’s speech who borrowed from Spender’s poem.
**Edmund Burke


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here