A reminder of heroism’s foundation: The 80th anniversary of D-Day

(The Daily Signal) – Whether a flag on the moon or the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima, boldness in service of our values has been America’s calling card since the Revolutionary War.


(The Daily Signal) – Whether a flag on the moon or the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima, boldness in service of our values has been America’s calling card since the Revolutionary War.

So, it’s fitting that, on June 6, we commemorate the American and Allied heroism of 80 years ago Thursday, as our troops set out to roll back the tide of fascism in Normandy, France, in 1944.

Those brave troops sailed toward the Normandy beaches, into a hail of gunfire, in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address so that Europe, too, should “have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

In this era of intense political polarization, Americans must now unite around the timeless principles of democracy, faith, and freedom, for which our brave troops laid down their lives.

When the Nazis began their ferocious blitzkrieg against the free nations of Europe, and Imperial Japan commenced its subjugation of Asia, Americans saw the severe threat posed to democracy and free government of, by, and for the people.

Nearly a year before the horrors of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed his faith in America as the arsenal of democracy in one of his fireside chats, declaring, “I have the profound conviction that the American people are now determined to put forth a mightier effort than they have ever yet made to increase our production of all the implements of defense, to meet the threat to our democratic faith.”

In commemorating the 40th anniversary of the heroism of D-Day in 1984, President Ronald Reagan likewise recognized the inspiration that democracy provided to our troops as he proclaimed to his audience, among them Army Rangers who liberated the ground he stood on at Pointe du Hoc, “You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.”

In the face of deep concerns about the continued success of government by the people and for the people, we as Americans must remember the awesome debt we owe to our forebears and rededicate ourselves to engagement in our precious democracy.

As news of the Normandy invasion broke in the United States, Roosevelt addressed the American people with a radio prayer asking “that our people devote themselves to a continuance of prayer.”

As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Americans responded fervently by packing churches across the nation on June 6 as the New York Daily News replaced its front-page stories with the Lord’s Prayer.

As we again commemorate the D-Day invasion, Americans should remember the central place faith has held in American life, and embrace the religious liberty enshrined in the Bill of Rights as we work to halt the rising scourge of antisemitism and repel threats to religious liberty.

With a foundation of religious and democratic faith, Allied forces’ overriding objective on D-Day was to expand the remit of freedom as they sought to liberate Europe from Nazi domination. In his famous statement to the Allied Expeditionary Force, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower bolstered his troops by declaring that they would “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 American people also understood the D-Day invasion as a key step in the defense of liberty. In solidarity with the Allied forces storming the beaches, a special ringing of the Liberty Bell occurred for the first time in nearly 100 years.

While remembering the brave troops who fought that day, and the 2,501 Americans who paid the ultimate price, we should remember the privilege sealed by their sacrifice to live out our nation’s founding vision and “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

As Reagan declared 40 years ago today, and now 40 years further removed from the D-Day invasion:

[L]et us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened, “I will not fail thee or forsake thee.” Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.