May we never forget their sacrifice

On 70th anniversary of D-Day, remember defining moment of Greatest Generation that helped preserve our freedom

In 1966, French President Charles de Gaulle removed all French troops from NATO’s integrated military command, and called on all non-French NATO troops to leave France.

The story goes that de Gaulle’s edict spurred this pointed response from then-U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk: “Does that include the dead Americans in military cemeteries as well?”

We never should forget the greatest moment of the Greatest Generation.

The Allied invasion on France’s beaches of Normandy – on June 6, 1944 – was the largest seaborne invasion in history. That invasion of German-occupied Western Europe turned the tide of World War II.

Tens of thousands of Americans stormed Omaha and Utah beaches and parachuted into coastal France that Tuesday morning. Many – too many – never returned home.

It was nothing less than a triumph of good over evil. But it also poignantly symbolizes a united sense of purpose seen far too little today.

There’s something empowering and fulfilling about being part of something greater than yourself. Like being an engaged voter. Or being an active participant in your place of worship.

That’s one of the powerful messages imparted by D-Day.

The allies who invaded occupied France that day comprised the will of something much greater than any one of them – to effect change and to reshape a better world.

And it’s our duty on this day, and on every June 6, to thank and honor all of the people who fought on that day in 1944 to preserve freedom, and to end tyranny.

According to a study last month prepared for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, 25 percent of Americans surveyed didn’t even know D-Day occurred during World War II. How sad – especially in today’s climate of the VA scandal, in which veterans are being shamefully dishonored. We must never forget this defining moment that demonstrated the importance of our military in preserving our freedoms.

D-Day hasn’t fully risen to the level of national-holiday recognition of the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, but that doesn’t diminish its profound importance.

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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon