D-Day anniversary appropriate time to reflect, appreciate our blessings of freedom
On Memorial Day, my family and I joined with others to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in freedom. Imagine what the maps of the world would look like today had it not been for the strength, the courage and the willingness of our soldiers to give their all.
A pivotal point in our nation's history came during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Known as D-Day, it was the largest-single amphibious invasion ever conducted. This Saturday is the 65th anniversary of that battle.
Like many other Americans, several of my family members fought on those beaches that day. To those who lived through it, history books can never adequately describe the real events of that day. To those of us born later, we can only imagine what it was like.
The battle on the coast of France involved more than 155,000 Allied troops. They faced enormous odds. The tops of the vertical rock cliffs jutting up from the sands of the beaches were covered with heavily-armed German troops. Barbed wire ran parallel between the foot of the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean.
Photographer Robert Capa described it by saying, “We lay flat on the small strip of wet sand between the sea and the barbed wire. The slant of the beach gave us some protection from the machine gun and rifle bullets. But the tide pushed us against the barbed wire, where the guns were enjoying open season.”
It was only through sheer determination and courage that Operation Overlord, as it was called, forced the German armies to retreat, returning freedom to France.
It was the beginning of the end of World War II, but it came at a tremendous price. More than 4,000 American, Briton and Canadian soldiers gave their lives on D-Day to preserve freedom.
General Eisenhower knew the stakes were high when he said, “We cannot afford to fail.” Hitler was preparing to invade England and was creating a nuclear bomb. Had we not been successful at Normandy, we might now be living in a very different world.
Near my office at the state Capitol, the Winged Victory Monument stands to honor our soldiers. An inscription on the monument reads, “They fought to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy.”
I am proud to live in a free nation where we have a voice in our government. One way to honor our soldiers is to become involved in our government of the people. That includes exercising the right to vote and communicating our concerns and ideas to our elected leaders.
On this D-Day anniversary, let us reflect upon our blessings of freedom and pay tribute to those who have served our country — both in the past and present. As President Reagan said 25 years ago at Normandy, “Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or from his Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.