We remember their sacrifices for free people

“We will accept nothing less than full victory.”

That was what Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said in his message to the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force 75 years ago as they prepared “to embark on a great crusade.”

The crusade “to bring about the destruction of the German war machine” began on D-Day — June 6, 1944.

More than 160,000 Allied troops were involved, supported by more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft.

Heroic sacrifices were made — thousands died — as wave after wave of determined troops stormed five beaches along 50 miles of heavily fortified coastline at Normandy, France.

By the end of the day, the Allies had gained a foothold in Continental Europe, marking a turning point in the war against Nazi Germany.

“More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops,” according to the Army.mil website, where Eisenhower’s inspirational message is preserved.

Today we all should pause in remembrance and honor of those who braved the beaches — those who died, those who survived. The landing was difficult; the greeting, unthinkably hostile. It was the thousands of ultimate acts of individual valor and resolve that day that collectively overcame one of the greatest evils to have ever existed on this Earth.

We should never forget.

“The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you,” Eisenhower said as D-Day dawned. “The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory. We will accept nothing less than full victory.”