Honoring sacrifice

My wife and I recently canceled a "bucket list" trip that had been planned for several years due to the ongoing pandemic and heightened terrorism alert in France.  Paris was the destination of choice for her, the beaches at Normandy for me.

Ever since watching the movie The Longest Day as a child in 1962, I have had a yearning to someday visit the beaches at Normandy, which were the site of the D-Day invasion on 6 June 1944.  Codenamed Operation Neptune, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history.  The operation began the liberation of France and laid the foundations of the ultimate Allied victory over the evil of Nazi Germany.

Allied casualties on the first day alone have been documented to have been at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.  Many of those are interred at the cemeteries surrounding the beachhead.  In addition to physical casualties, many of the participants suffered from debilitating mental anguish called "battle fatigue," known now as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

As a child, I marveled at the airborne assaults by parachutes and gliders and the heroics displayed by many young men not much older than me, who willingly sacrificed their own lives so that others may live in freedom.  As I have become older and as a result of service in uniform, I have seen firsthand the horror of armed conflict.  I have a much deeper appreciation for the sacrifices that were made on the day when the very future of democracy was at stake.

Since the founding of this nation in 1776, we have had a total of 2,852,901-plus men and women as casualties, including deaths, those wounded in action, and those missing — a major toll to pay for the price of freedom we enjoy today.  Along with those who have died in conflicts of the past there are those today who suffer from PTSD and other disorders.  All as a result of our recent "War on Terrorism."

We recently paid tribute to Army staff sergeant Ryan Knauss as his body proceeded in Virginia up Interstate 81 to his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery.  Unfortunately, he and twelve other sailors and Marines were senselessly murdered in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Their loss could have been easily prevented had it not been for the ineptitude and incompetence of the Biden administration.

Along with our freedom, we have a debt to those who perished and suffered, and that debt is to ensure that we as citizens in a representative democracy vote on the issues and candidates of our own choosing.  Many in America may believe their vote does not really count or matter.   Recent false allegations by members of the Democratic Party of "voter suppression" and "Jim Crow" are merely a veiled attempt to dissuade some from going to the polls to exercise their constitutional rights

As Thomas Jefferson stated, "[w]e do not have government by the majority.  We have government by the majority who participate."  Through their sacrifice, please vote, and remember the fallen, who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy today.  Honor them and ensure that their sacrifice was not made in vain.

Image: National Archives.

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