Throw Away Your History Book: This Is the Battle That Won World War II (Not D-Day)
The fact that Midway’s anniversary falls one day after D-Day may be part of the reason – it is overshadowed. It may also be that the story of American ground troops at Normandy, braving the horrors on the beach to secure a toehold in Europe, is something that resonates more personally with people on the most basic and emotional levels. We understand it better because of its mortal qualities. We’re more affected by – and thus seem to appreciate more – the visceral aspects of combat, the grit and grind and human tragedy of war. Perhaps Midway is less captivating in this regard.
Thursday, June 6th saw the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion at Normandy, the amphibious assault phase of Operation Neptune, or what we commonly remember as D-Day. U.S. troops who landed at Normandy – particularly at Omaha Beach – waded ashore amidst a storm of chaos, a blizzard of machine gun fire, and a hail of plunging mortars. Despite great confusion and casualties, at the squad level and below, the men at Omaha rallied and pressed forth with tenacity and nerve to breach sand-berms and barricades, neutralize enemy positions, and salvage their sectors. Losses at Omaha were immense – but American resolve helped establish a foothold on the coast of France – and “the rest,” they say, “is history.”
(This appeared earlier in June 2019.)
Without doubt, the enormous importance of D-Day as a logistical and operational undertaking – and the gallantry of Allied forces that June morning is unquestioned. It rightfully exemplifies American character, courage, and commitment. However, it is important to note that as far as the battle’s strategic significance is concerned, a strong case can be made that other battles of World War II are more critical than D-Day.
The Battle of Midway in 1942 is one.
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