For the past decade, my husband and I have had the privilege of keeping a residence in the small town of Saint-James, France. The countryside is so beautiful and peaceful, and many of the local residents have become dear friends of ours. And this is a region where the World War II campaigns of 1944 are still very much on the minds and in the hearts of the people who live here. It seems that every day I hear a new story or learn something new about the nearly 5,000 soldiers who were laid to rest at the Brittany American Cemetery.
Over the years, I’ve become increasingly passionate about supporting military families and veterans and I am dedicated to doing everything I can to ensure we give appropriate support to those who make a personal sacrifice for our freedom. As I learn more about the historical events that took place in this region I now call home, this cause becomes more and more personal for me. That is why I strongly believe in commemorating this year’s 70th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, and highlighting it as an important moment of honoring those who gave all while raising awareness about ongoing issues surrounding the care we provide our veterans.
I am always honored to be in France to participate in memorial events that pay tribute to the Greatest Generation, which included my own father who also served in World War II. I never miss an opportunity to remember and thank those who have served. It is so moving to watch all the events taking place involving people from our allied countries and countries around the world. As all eyes are on the landing beaches and sites of the Battle of Normandy, we will mourn the loss of life and celebrate the freedom those soldiers gave us.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to visit France for the anniversary events. But it’s important for millions more Americans to constantly be aware of the important sacrifice our military personnel made for us then and continue to make for us now. Thousands of service men and women continue to fight for our freedom. And they deserve the same respect and commitment from us as those who served from previous generations.
The number of individuals who serve today is much smaller by comparison but that is why it’s even more important to thank them every day for their service. And we have to help them get the treatments and rehabilitation and support they need to return to civilian life. That includes providing sufficient medical care, job training, and ongoing support to military families to help them create the best lives they can possibly have after serving. Those in military service make up only one percent of the total population of the United States, and most Americans don’t have first-hand knowledge of military experience. This is such a different reality than that which veterans faced half a century ago. But that’s why it’s even more important to raise public awareness of veterans issues, and that’s why it is a cause I am committed to for the rest of my life.
On this D-Day anniversary, and every other day of the year, we can honor those who gave all by taking care of those who continue to serve.