On June 6th we will honor those courageously landed and fought in Normandy. It was on that fateful day in 1944 where one of the most important events in human history took place. An estimated 156,000 heroes were born on those beaches. Over 10,000 people were wounded or paid the ultimate sacrifice.
D-Day was the largest seaborne invasion in history. It wasn’t until 2014, when we honored those veterans in the 70th anniversary of D-Day, that I saw first hand what the events of that day meant to the people of Europe.
In my last year of Congress, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, asked me to lead a large delegation of the House as we traveled to Normandy. It was an inspiring visit. All of the allies during WWII were present for the anniversary celebration, even those who are not necessarily considered to be one of our allies today. President Obama spoke and we made our way to watch honorary parachute jumps. Those of us from both the House and the Senate were then able to see what the events of D-Day still mean to these people, particularly those in France.
Our group took buses through these country backroads where these quaint French homes were tucked away in beautiful settings. What stood out to me, however, was that fact that all of these homes hung American flags in their windows and on doors. It was incredible to see how appreciative the French people were of our nation’s efforts during WWII, in particular for the sacrifices made on D-Day.
D-Day forced the Germans to fight a “two front war” which they were ill-equipped to handle. It would eventually lead to the demise of Germany’s domination and ensured the freedom of entire nations. May we never forget the sacrifices made and the bravery shown on June 6, 1944.