On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 soldiers from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada stormed the beaches on the coast of Normandy in order to push Germany out of Western Europe. This invasion would change the course of World War II and ensure a victory for the Allied forces. That day is since remembered as D-Day, and 76 years later, we still remember the brave soldiers who risked and lost their lives on that day.
None of those lost on D-Day should ever be forgotten, but to this day, the exact number of causalities is still unknown. Various groups have tried to determine the number of casualties, such as the National D-Day Memorial Foundation located in Bedford, Virginia. As they continue to gather information on the invasion’s losses, the foundation has currently placed 4,414 names on bronze plaques which represent every member of the Allied Forces who perished on D-Day. The memorial foundation not only shows tribute to the fallen soldiers from the United States, but to all our Allied Forces. It’s a powerful reminder that even if some names are lost to history, their actions can still live on.
President Barack Obama offered his thoughts on the lasting impact of D-Day in this quote: “What more powerful manifestation of America’s commitment to human freedom than the sight of wave after wave after wave of young men boarding those boats to liberate people they had never met?”
We must never forget that being a hero means putting the needs and safety of others first. D-Day’s legacy of courage and self-sacrifice can be seen every day in our servicemen and women, healthcare professionals and other essential workers. Their actions remind us that we can take nothing for granted, especially our fellow Americans. I hope you will keep all of them in your thoughts as we continue the process of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
As always, please remember to extend a thank you to our servicemen and women for their hard work and sacrifice.
May God bless those lost on D-Day, may God bless America, and all of those working each day to protect our homes and families.
Ronald G. Rios is the director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He writes the occasional column for Newspaper Media Group.