As Allied forces prepared to storm a fifty-mile stretch of heavily-fortified, Nazi-occupied French coastline, General Dwight Eisenhower delivered some inspirational words of wisdom to American troops.
General Eisenhower said, “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. 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.”
The General’s inspirational words rang true, and June 6, 1944, became a day that changed the course of history for the better. In the early morning hours, 31,000 members of the United States Armed Forces, and 153,000 of their counterparts in the Allied Expeditionary Force, launched Operation Overlord, storming ashore five landing areas on the beaches of Normandy, France. Nearly 10,000 Allied soldiers were wounded or killed, including 6,000 Americans on the first day of Operation Overloard, known today as D-Day. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the operation which led to Allied liberation of Western Europe from the control of Nazi Germany and an end to World War II.
The 160,000 Allied troops who landed on the beaches of Normandy embodied General Eisenhower’s words, liberating “the oppressed peoples of Europe” and bringing security for the U.S. “in a free world.”
Seventy years later, it is important to reflect on the anniversary of D-Day and rightly honor the brave men and women of the Allied Forces who helped free Western Europe from Nazi occupation. As time passes, it remains our duty to remember the sacrifices made by the members of the Greatest Generation, including those brave Arkansans, who answered the call of those being oppressed by the Nazi and Fascist regimes.
That is why Senator Mary Landrieu and I, as co-chairs of the Senate French Caucus, joined with members of the Parliament of the French Republic to mark the 70th anniversary by passing resolutions through our respective legislative bodies recognizing the importance of the date and honoring these sacrifices made in the name of liberty. On May 22nd, the Senate passed unanimously passed our resolution. While the House of Representatives has not considered resolutions in the 113th Congress, similar language was added to H.R. 4435, the “National Defense Authorization Act for FY15” as an amendment. In early May, the French Parliament passed a similar resolution expressing their gratitude for the sacrifices made by Allied forces which brought about France’s liberation from Nazi Germany.
General Eisenhower’s pre-mission remarks concluded with “I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!” Full victory was most certainly achieved and the world is a much better place as a result. Let us never forget that is because the courage of those troops, and the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in that operation, that we live in a free world today.