June 07, 2015

Manchin remebers D-Day | Logan Banner

Each year, June 6th marks the anniversary of D-Day, the 1944
Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II. This important event, notably
the largest seaborne invasion in world history, took an entire year to
coordinate and was a decisive turning point in the war that heralded the coming
end of Adolf Hitler’s regime and a turning point for the war in Europe. This
day, we pay tribute to the heroes who — with unequivocal patriotism, bravery
and valor — stormed those terrifying shores to change the course of history.

Seventy-one years later, we, as Americans and West
Virginians, reflect on the significance of that landmark day. More than 160,000
Allied troops fearlessly stormed 50 miles of Nazi-occupied beach on the
coastline of France, where then-General Dwight D. Eisenhower had proclaimed,
“We will accept nothing less than full victory.” As many returning soldiers
have described it, the scene was bleak and hellish, but our forces went into
the line of fire boldly with victory in sight.

I read a quote recently that truly defines the tenacity of
our soldiers on that day. Vincent Di Bacco, a West Virginia hero who at Omaha
Beach in 1944 said, “I had some trepidation about it, but we all felt like we
owned the world,” he said. “We were anxious to get started, because we all
wanted to get home.” It is undoubtedly because of this bravery that we declared
victory in Normandy and went on to win the war.

Vital victories such as this, however, bear a tremendous
cost. It is estimated that there were at least 10,000 Allied casualties on
D-Day. Of those, 4,414 were confirmed deaths and 38 were soldiers from the
Mountain State. As I always say, West Virginia is one of the most patriotic
states in this nation, and we are proud of the number of veterans and active
duty members that have served our military and served honorably and proudly.
Today, we especially honor those 38 brave West Virginia souls.

Last year, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I had the
incredible opportunity to travel to Normandy and stand alongside hundreds of World
War II veterans as part of a ceremony held at Sword Beach. We saluted our
heroes and paid tribute to those lost. As I stood beside the graves of West
Virginians who had fought on D-Day, I was filled with tears and profound
gratitude for their sacrifice. To stand where so many courageous soldiers had
fought for our freedoms was a moving experience, and one that I will forever
cherish and reflect upon.

Today, I draw upon that memory, as it puts into perspective
the scale of the impact that day had on our lives. It is a sobering reminder of
the hardships our veterans have endured and our military members are
experiencing every single day to keep America free. The sacrifices and
patriotism of our veterans know no bounds.

Our nation and our world will never forget the events of
June 6, 1944. I hope that this weekend all West Virginians will take a moment
to commemorate the heroes of D-Day and treasure the liberties gained by the
sacrifices made by our men and women in service.

By:  Sen. Joe Manchin