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Whatever challenges America faces in 2019 (and it faces many), they pale when compared to the challenges our nation faced when an estimated 73,000 U.S. troops landed on the beaches of France, part of an overall Allied force of close to 160,000, to begin the liberation of Europe from the evil grip of Nazi Germany 75 years ago today.

This year's observance of D-Day takes on added poignancy because it likely will mark the final milestone anniversary for survivors of the momentous invasion when the end to World War II began.

Due to the inexorable march of time, our nation is losing these human jewels and their irreplaceable firsthand accounts from places like Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword when the fate of the world hung in the balance. The youngest D-Day vets have reached their mid-90s.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, less than 500,000, or fewer than 3 percent, of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII remain alive today. Some 400 WWII veterans die every day.

As we pause today in reflection on a dark, uncertain time seven and a half decades ago when young, anxious men were loaded onto thousands of boats and planes and ordered to alter the course of humankind, let us as Americans again recognize our living veterans from D-Day and the many other battlefields of WWII and embrace them as the national treasures they are. Let us strive always to honor the stories of WWII and to remain steadfast in solemn respect for the sacrifices made and accomplishments earned by our troops during an uncertain time of trial and turmoil. Let us never take for granted the freedoms for which American and Allied forces fought and died.

Let us make sure the echoes of courage and heroism from the beaches of Normandy will be heard forever.

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