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Remembering D-Day: Never forget lessons learned

Honoring the sacrifices of our troops on Memorial Day

Remembering D-Day: Never forget lessons learned

Read article in the Post Register

Next week, June 6, marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day when Allied troops invaded Normandy, France. We’re quickly reaching a point where all veterans who witnessed these events firsthand will soon leave us. For the sake of our nation and future generations, we must do our part to remember their sacrifice and never forget the cost of defending freedom and rejecting authoritarianism.

This critical battle marked the moment when roughly 160,000 troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and other nations pressed forward with Operations Overlord and Neptune to liberate northern Europe from the Nazi regime. Bad weather stopped the planned assault on June 5. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, saw an opening in the forecast and pressed ahead with the mission on June 6.

The loss of life on D-Day was heavy, with 20,000 casualties on both sides. After intense fighting, Allied troops secured the beachhead. The campaign then moved through and reclaimed Normandy with more Allied losses before eventually pushing on and liberating Paris. This past weekend, we had the privilege to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice as part of our Memorial Day observance.

The physical distance and passage of time between D-Day now makes it hard to remember what we risked losing. In our ever-changing world, the best offense against repeating past mistakes begins with never forgetting the lessons learned. We know our great nation holds the capacity to lead in difficult times. But that leadership must be exercised with patience and care, which begins at home.

We must stand up for the very rights so many fought to defend all those years ago. It means we must have clear-eyed conversations about our nation’s challenges and political divide. We have come too far and sacrificed too much to let our internal differences undermine this country’s foundation. It means we must make a choice.

Will we continue in the footsteps of our founders and find ways to work together even when we disagree? Will we set aside personal grudges to show love for our country and fellow Americans in times of trial? Will we honor our responsibility to future generations to maintain this great experiment reflected in our Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution?

No one else can answer these questions for us. We must decide the price we’re willing to pay to maintain freedom and liberty. Our choice doesn’t happen in a vacuum, as we see examples around the world of authoritarian regimes actively suppressing freedom of speech, freedom of religion and dozens of other rights we sometimes take for granted.

I encourage everyone to remember on this D-Day what we stood to lose if we failed to stand up when it counted. Then consider what we must do today to ensure we don’t lose the very thing so many fought and died to protect.