On this day, 68 years ago, Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy. Most of those heroes were young men; many were teens. On those beaches, they changed the course of world history.
In 2001, as a senior in high school, I participated in the Veterans of Foreign Wars national essay contest. The title of the essay, “What Price Freedom.” I could think of nothing else more pivotal than the turning point of WWII. I wrote of one of the few survivors and of his daughter’s journey back to France to visit the memorial erected years later. I was blessed to win the state of OH and was invited to Washington, D.C., for the final round where I would place 7th nationally. As a senior, it was a heady moment touring the capital with the other state winners, visiting the White House, and meeting President George W. Bush. The VFW leaders treated us like celebrities, and I was almost embarrassed by it all. They were the generation who had paid the price so that I could be standing there. And all because I’d put some words down on paper. But it was more than that. They recognized the respect in each of us for what they had done for our country, and they were now honoring us. I still look back at that weekend with fond memories. It was only a few short months later that I would walk off the parade deck at Parris Island as a US Marine, and then only a few more weeks after that when terrorists would bring war to our own soil.
I love my country with every fiber of my being. It’s doubtful I’ll ever have the opportunity to prove it like the D-Day invaders, but I want them to know they will never be forgotten. This country, for all its problems and issues, still stands as the greatest in the world.