Yesterday, I had to fly to New York City to do a taping for Fox News. And God’s divine providence shined down on West Palm Beach airport, as at that same time, there was a group of men preparing to depart on their own flight — an Honor Flight.
Assembled at the airport was that special breed of men from our Greatest Generation now in their upper 80’s and 90’s who 70 years ago embarked upon the greatest military invasion in history: Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. It was amazing to gaze into their eyes — there was still that vigor and spirit — and the strong handshakes! These were men who were part of that vast number — 160,000 strong — who would hit the drop zones and beach landing zones to begin the liberation of Europe from the Nazi stranglehold.
Here is General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s message to the troops. You cannot help but be inspired and awed by his words and the task our troops faced.
We must never forget the names Bold, Sword, Juno, Omaha, Utah, and Point du Hoc where the Allies and men of the American Army’s 1st, 4th, and 29th Infantry Divisions hit the beach — and the 2nd Rangers scaled the heights. And the evening prior, in order to set the conditions for a successful beach landing operation, the Paratroopers of the American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, along with the British 6th Para secured key bridges and terrain cutting off German reinforcements. Never forget St. Mere-Eglise and Carentan, or the Orne River Bridge.The stories of heroism will echo for eternity and they must be told to ensure those brave 9,000 — who would never again walk among the living — are not forgotten. We should feel ashamed if we allow the children and grandchildren of Normandy to celebrate this day more so than our own. We must never allow the legacy of Operation Overlord to be forgotten. Those men I met yesterday morning at West Palm Beach airport will never forget that longest of days — we can take the time to honor them, and make sure we thank them for the liberty and freedoms we enjoy every day.
And so here are the mottos of the American units of that famed day:
1st Infantry Division: “No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great – Duty First”
4th Infantry Division: “Steadfast and Loyal”
82nd Airborne Division: “All-American”
101st Airborne Division: “Screaming Eagles, Rendezvous with Destiny”
2nd Rangers: “Rangers Lead the Way”
My father served in North Africa and Italy, and perhaps if he had not been wounded he would have made it to Normandy. As I looked upon those men yesterday — I looked into my own dad’s eyes.
God bless those men who sacrificed on “the longest day.”