On 6 June, President Biden along with key U.S. allies gathered in Normandy to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the U.S. led allied forces D-Day invasion of northern France. On this day in 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, launched Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history that would mark the beginning of the end of World War II, less than a year later.

It involved some 160,000 troops across 5 beaches. On D-Day itself, 4,415 allied soldiers were killed and more than 5,000 were wounded. During the ensuing battle which lasted over twelve weeks, approximately 73,000 troops were killed and 153,000 wounded. Biden in his speech said, “What the allied did here 80 years ago, far surpassed anything we could have done on our own. Together, we won the war”.

In his Wall Street Journal ‘Op-Ed’, Michael Snape (professor at Durham University), wrote that the D-Day celebration was a ‘telling instance of amnesia’ for the simple reason the religious significance of the operation was ‘largely ignored’.  He went on to explain that in his order distributed to the ‘expeditionary force, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower …invoked the “blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking”’.

It wasn’t a secular affair as one historian claimed it to be. Rather, it was ‘carried out primarily by countries in which Judeo-Christian beliefs were normative and unifying. Despite popular misconceptions, the shock of World War I hadn’t made the Lord of Hosts redundant. A generation after the Great War, faced with an apparently existential threat, the Western and historically Christian democracies still sought comfort, definition and inspiration in a faith that set them apart from the neopaganism of Nazi Germany’.

Incredibly, as news of the invasion began to spread, ‘houses of worship filled for services, perhaps the “greatest wave of mass intercession in history”, as one magazine described it…The success of D-Day, like that of the Dunkirk evacuation four years earlier, was naturally and widely taken as providential’.

According to Jim Denison, a theologian who comments on cultural issues, historian estimate as many as 10% of all Civil War soldiers came to Christ. The Korean War catalysed a spiritual movement in South Korea. A dear friend of Denison who took part in D-Day celebrations handed him a poem written by an unknown paratrooper before parachuting into German territory in 1944 (cited by). In it, he prayed: They told You didn’t exist | And, like a fool | I believed.

Seeing the sky from a shell hole, he had an ‘aha’ moment that God is real. He wrote: Funny, I had to come to this hellish place | Before I had time to see Your face | Look now, this will a horrible fight | Who knows, I may come to Your home tonight | Though I wasn’t friendly to You before | I wonder, God, if You will wait at Your door. He closed: Look, I’m crying! Me, shedding tears! | I wish I had known You all those years | Well, God, I have to go now, so goodbye | Strange, since I met You, I’m not afraid to die.

God may feel invisible to us, especially in times of crisis; silent, hidden from sight and no where to be found.  However, take heart and remember that God is always on the  move behind the scenes, working out His purpose for the world and our lives.

Christ in us the hope of glory!