Field of Heroes
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Colleville-Sur-Mer, Normandy, France
The First Amendment guarantees us the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to peaceably assemble and protest — freedoms as important to us today as they were when our Bill of Rights was ratified in 1789.
I shouldn’t need to remind any of you that these freedoms came at an extraordinarily high price.
On June 6, 1944, approximately 2,500 American servicemen gave their lives and 7,500 more were wounded during the D-Day invasion to assure we continue to enjoy the liberties we too often take for granted as Americans.
I had the privilege to visit Normandy, France a few years ago and walk on those legendary beaches — Omaha and Juno — where so much blood was shed during the amphibious invasion. And I had the honor to walk among the nearly 2,000 heroes buried in the American Cemetery.
I am not ashamed to confess that I was overcome with raw emotion as I looked out at the sea of white Italian marble crosses before me. Row after row, I read the names of those brave souls who gave their lives so we could live in a world free of tyranny.
Then, upon closer examination, my heart truly broke and I could hold back my tears no longer.
Each marker is engraved with the name, rank, hometown, and date of death of the serviceman buried there. I had naively expected all of them to have the date of death as June 6, 1944. But I soon realized that at least a third of them had dates well after D-Day. Several had died a few years after the end of the war!
In other words, they had been mortally wounded during the D-Day operation. But suffered from those agonizing injuries for weeks…months…even years, until they eventually died a cruel death. I couldn’t help thinking that those who died instantly in the surf, on the beach, or blown out of the sky by anti-aircraft fire, were the “lucky” ones.
But regardless of how or when they died, they were heroes all. And they deserve our deepest appreciation, respect, and prayers.
Yes, these are difficult times for our country, our families, our neighbors, and ourselves. But just as we rose to the occasion to overcome the threats to our way of life during WWII, we have the talent and ability to conquer the challenges we face today.
Anything less would be an insult to those who gave their lives for us 76 years ago.
God Bless America