On June 6, 1944 – now 70 years ago – more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along the heavily defended French coastline at Normandy. They landed at beaches – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – and more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers lost their lives wrestling a toehold on the European mainland away from the grips of Nazi power.
“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you,” General Dwight D. Eisenhower said in a message to his troops shortly before what would become the largest amphibious landing in military history. “In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”
We owe everything that we have in this country to the brave men who stormed those beaches on D-Day 70 years ago and to all those that went before us to ensure the survival of liberty here and around the globe.
The Soldiers who fought and died on those beaches that fateful day in 1944 carried with them a sense of pride and duty bigger than oneself. They understood that freedom is not and never will be free. It must be protected by patriots willing to lay down their lives in its defense.
That’s as true today as it was 70 years ago. We see it every day in the men and women of the Wisconsin National Guard, who like their forefathers before them, volunteered to serve their country in its hours of need knowing full well that they could be sent into harm’s way at any moment. They too carry with them that same sense of duty and patriotism that prompted previous generations of Americans to stand up and say, “send me,” when their country asked.
Let us never forget the price of freedom or those who laid down their lives defending it. And let us never forget the sacrifices borne by so many on June 6, 1944, and in every other conflict before or since.