H/T to @MontyandMatisse via Twitter.

Pardon the interruption.

Today marks the 74th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France, the great and critical battle that ultimately sealed the liberation of Europe from the Nazis. Not only was the invasion a brilliant strategic and tactical success, it was probably the greatest feat of engineering (certainly military engineering) in human history. I ask that we take just a moment to think of those who risked their lives (and many who paid with their lives) so not only that we may be free, to that a continent crushed under the boot of unimaginable tyranny could be liberated.

I have a personal connection to this day. My late father-in-law, John Hohler, was among those brave souls cramped into the hull of C-47 transport planes in the wee hours of June 6, 1944. As his plane was pounded with flak from German anti-aircraft guns, he stared into the faces of his buddies in the 82nd Airborne, knowing that many would not see the sunset that day. John was one of the lucky ones who survived (having previously made it through fighting in North Africa) and went on to see action in France and later during Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge and the invasion of Germany and liberation of the Wobbelin concentration camp. John never discussed much about his war service with his wife and two daughters. Only when he reached his 90’s would he talk tto me about it, and then not very much. While he spoke of North Africa, some of the later fighting in France and Belgium and Germany, he never spoke about D-Day other than to say that he was there. Although he returned to France many time (and loved Paris), he never went back to the beaches in Normandy. Shortly after John died at age 96, my wife, son and I took the trip to those beaches in his honor. I cannot tell you how emotion an experience it was.

So tonight, when you are safe in your  homes or enjoying a night out, raise a glass in honor of those who came before you and endured the unthinkable so that we may enjoy the fruits of freedom, safety and prosperity.

I will raise my glass to Sgt. John Hohler. A brave and quiet man who lived by the motto “Any day that Nazis aren’t shoot at you is a good day!”

Well said, sir. To absent companions.

6/6 '18