Friday, June 21, 2024

Parker: Remembering D-Day — Honoring Our Heroes and Preserving Our History

Throughout our history, few events have had the profound impact and significance as D-Day, the monumental military operation during World War II that took place on June 6, 1944. The Allied invasion of German-occupied Normandy, France was launched in darkness under the disguise of brutal weather as the largest armada in history gathered and young paratroopers prepared to board the aircraft that awaited.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower carried the weight of this decision to launch, looking to his generals and telling them, “I don’t like it, but we have to go.” He distributed his Order of the Day to the 175,000 members of the Allied Expeditionary Force who stood ready to sacrifice all to end tyranny and face the German occupying forces. The operation was a turning point in the war, paving the way for the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany and the restoration of peace and democracy across Europe.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of this defining moment in time, a calling for us to always remember the sacrifices made by the soldiers who fought for our freedom and the importance of preserving history to honor their legacies.

It is also critical that Americans continue to recognize the remarkable WWII veterans who are still with us today. This week, there are six WWII veterans from North Texas alone, ranging in age from 97 to 103 years old, who are taking the pilgrimage to Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. There they will be reunited with their past, remembering the fallen and connecting with many more remaining heroes who were blessed to return home.

Largely organized by nonprofit organizations such as Liberty Jump Team and Beyond the Call, these veterans serve as a reminder of the freedoms we have today. As the number of remaining WWII vet dwindles, such volunteer-driven organizations work tirelessly to preserve the memory of all our United States Military veterans, making certain that their sacrifices are always remembered.

It is a mission that must remain in the hearts of every American – never forget what our veterans did for us. President Ronald Reagan so wisely said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it, and then hand it to them with the well fought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

As a society, it is our duty to come together in recognizing June 6 as an extraordinary historic moment when tyranny was defeated, freedom restored, victims liberated, and peace returned. It came at an enormous price, the lives of the brave forces who answered the call and gave everything they had. There are nearly 9,400 grave sites and 1,600 names on the Walls of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery, including 45 sets of brothers who rest side by side. Everyone had a story, a place where their lives began, and a calling to pass to the next generation the gift of freedom.

Today, and every day, let us never forget the courage and sacrifice of those who fought for our freedom. Let us honor their legacy by preserving our history and passing down their stories to future generations. By doing so, we can ensure that the memory of D-Day and the heroes who made it possible will live on forever.

State Senator Tan Parker represents SD12 that includes portions of Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant County and the entirety of Wise County. He serves as vice chairman of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee. He is also the legislative author of the bill establishing the 1836 Project, a state-wide Texas history preservation initiative.

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