D-Day's 75th anniversary reminds us of the importance of our alliances
Washington, June 6, 2019
THE HILL, REPS. MIKIE SHERRILL, JASON CROW, GIL CISNEROS, CHRISSY HOULAHAN, ABIGAIL SPANBERGER
Like so many Americans, we grew up hearing the stories of our family members and community leaders who served in World War II. From the French Resistance that protected American troops in occupied France to the Rangers that scaled the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, these stories of sacrifice and heroism shaped our belief in civic duty and the importance of servant leadership. In no small part, it motivated us to answer the call ourselves and join the military and the intelligence community. And now, as members of Congress, we strive to serve our districts with that same sense of duty.
This week, we mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. We are proud to join our colleagues in Normandy to honor those who risked and gave their lives on June 6, 1944. This moment is also an opportunity to reflect on the international alliances that gave rise to the norms and institutions that have served our country in the 75 years since that day on the beaches of France.
The scale of Operation Overlord is still staggering: 6,939 vessels, 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders delivered 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies to the shores of France in one day. Men served from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Norway, Poland, Australia and New Zealand.
Historians have rightly pointed out the role that figures such as Winston Churchill played after the war in constructing the so-called “Special Relationship” between the United Kingdom and the United States, but that does not negate or diminish the skill, tenacity, or common cause that forged the largest amphibious and airborne assault in world history.
The partnerships that arose out of D-Day still remain paramount 75 years later. As individuals who served our country, we know firsthand the real consequences of military action and the need for strong alliances. We have served alongside NATO forces, whether in Kosovo, Afghanistan or Iraq, and know the benefit that this cooperation brings in terms of security, strength and intelligence gathering.
In short, we know that America is strongest when we have strong friends and allies.
Yet today, those alliances are threatened by an administration that instead of fostering our partnerships, seeks to dismantle them. Alliances that were forged not just in the Oval Office or 10 Downing Street, but on the battlefields. These alliances are more than politically expedient, they are a reflection of our shared values of democracy, human rights and mutual defense. And they are a result of and vital to U.S. global leadership.
Those who fought to bring liberty and freedom to Europe were part of the Greatest Generation and their children grew up with the backdrop of NATO with the shared goal of a secure world order that stood up to fascism, autocrats and dictators. And today, it seems increasingly clear our generation faces a choice. Do we fall back from the relationships that make us strong, or abandon them, putting the United States and our service members at risk?
Our institutions and alliances are not perfect, but they are worth protecting.
As members of Congress, we will continue to advocate for the relationships that won the war and kept us safe when we served. We will strive to improve them, not tear them down. The thousands of Americans who gave their lives on the beaches of Normandy alongside British, Canadians, and the rest of the Allied Forces to free Europe from tyranny deserve that promise from all our leaders.
Sherrill represents New Jersey’s 11th District and is a U.S. Navy veteran; Crow represents Colorado’s 6th District and is a former Army Ranger; Cisneros represents California’s 39th District and is a former Navy lieutenant commander; Houlahan represents Pennsylvania’s 6th District and is an Air Force veteran; Spanberger represents Virginia’s 7th District and is a former CIA intelligence officer.