Remembering D-Day

June 6, 2014, marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the great amphibious landing on the beaches of Normandy that began the Allies’ final assault, to continue for almost a year, to conquer Nazi-occupied Europe and end that phase of World War II.
Understandably, the D-Day commemorations centered on Normandy – Juno Beach, Omaha Beach and the others – where the hundreds of thousands of troops stormed ashore, literally under the noses of Nazi guns on the heights.
Many of those troops were union members– Plumbers, Carpenters, Fire Fighters, Steel Workers, Mine Workers, Auto Workers, Machinists and more.  But unionists’ contribution to D-Day dwarfed the numbers of men who went ashore.
When those soldiers stormed out of the LSTs, they carried weapons made by union workers in U.S. plants.  Their tanks came from converted union-manned – actually, by that time union-womanned – auto assembly lines at GM and Ford.  Jeeps were from Chrysler.  Rosie the Riveter was for real, and she was union.
The bombers and fighters invading Europe overhead came from Lockheed plants, again unionized, in St. Louis and Los Angeles.  The ships came from union shipyards.  The destroyers off the coast that gave the troops the cover of constant cannonading were, in all likelihood, made by Kaiser, which then was turning out battleships, not medical care.
FDR, early on, called the U.S. “the arsenal of democracy,” for our own troops and for our allies – British, Free French, Soviet soldiers and more – battling the Axis tyrannies of Germany, Italy and Japan.  Union workers created the weapons in FDR’s arsenal.
We won’t go on at length.  Find a World War II vet, or a union leader, and ask him about unionists’ contributions to D-Day.  You’ll get a deserved earful of history – history that should not be forgotten.