To all of the fine men and women here,
Today is an important day that people need to recognize, so let me take a moment to share this with you.
Today is September 15. Here in the U.S., it doesn't mean much, but it should. Great Britain marks September 15 as Battle of Britain Day, and on this day in 1940 in the skies over London, an aerial siege that had gone on for over two months was finally broken.
As Americans, we still bask in the glory of WWII and remember the sacrifices of our brave soldiers at Pearl Harbor, Omaha Beach, Iwo Jima, and in the skies over Europe in the Flying Fortresses. However, few Americans know that before December 7, 1940, the United States was strictly neutral and isolationist.
Europe was begging for help, literally being overrun by the darkest evil ever manifested in man. The Nazis, it seemed, could not be stopped. As Poland, Belgium, and Holland fell and the French surrendered, one tiny island nation found itself alone with its back to the sea, the last hold-out against Hitler's armies.
They begged for help. The U.S. sent supplies, but remained isolationist in the grand scheme. Britain was alone, with a devastated army swimming back from Dunkirk, and a badly outnumbered group of Royal Air Force pilots being the only line of defense against the still advancing Luftwaffe. As many have dubbed it, this was history's narrowest margin.
These brave pilots, whom Winston Churchill dubbed "the Few," flew day and night against the seemingly endless Nazi bombers and fighters. In Hurricanes and Spitfires, they held the line, but just barely - many dying in the skies or maimed beyond recognition. These were men defending their homes, with no thought of running. Of course, there was no where to run to, except the Atlantic.
These pilots' sacrifices effectively stopped Hitler's unstoppable advance. They faced daunting odds, often 4 to 1, but they held their ground. Were it not for them, D-Day might never have been, nor North Africa, for there would have been no effective staging ground to launch a counterattack against Fortress Europe.
Incidentally, there were 7 documented Americans who flew in the Battle of Britain with the RAF. These men defied the U.S. government's threat of imprisonment and fines for the greater good. Yes, the U.S. made it illegal to join foreign armies during it's neutrality policy, but these men answered the call anyway, the majority of them dying before Pearl Harbor.
In short, the RAF pilots who flew and died in The Battle of Britain gave freedom a slim chance of succeeding - they carved out hope with their blood. Take a moment on September 15 to remember these men, not just the 7 Americans (and the many other Yanks who claimed to be Canadian that we will never truly know) but every - single - pilot who died so the world might live.
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. " - Winston Churchill
Thanks for reading this,
Mike French (no relation to the nation)