This past weekend we marked Memorial Day, and as Americans celebrated the freedoms that come with being a citizen of this great country, we must remember the price that so many have paid to keep us safe and secure in our liberty.
I spent this holiday weekend in Ukraine to observe their Presidential election during a time of democratic transition and in Poland to visit with our brave servicemen and women stationed there. Poland is a key NATO ally bordering on Ukraine, in a region of the world now less stable with the Russian invasion of parts of Ukraine. I will receive briefings from our military and intelligence officials and have the chance to thank our men and women in uniform who are there to keep the peace for all of us. We honor their service.
Our nation was born from the courage and bravery of the patriots who fought for our independence. Through the years, generations of Americans have followed in their footsteps, offering their service and risking their lives both here and abroad to protect our country and to preserve the ideals we value so much as a nation.
I am proud to be the son and grandson of two Army Infantry Lieutenants—one a veteran of WWI, and the other a veteran of WWII. They knew that our security comes at a steep price. Our men and women in uniform give up the comforts of home. They leave their loved ones behind for months or even years. When it comes to their priorities, they put their own safety second, behind completing the mission.
For the last 13 years, an important part of that mission has been to defend our nation from terrorism. Just in the last few weeks, we saw a terror group strike again in the deplorable actions of terrorist kidnappers in Nigeria involved in sex trafficking. While our government works with others to free 200 young girls who wanted nothing more than to receive an education, we are reminded how truly blessed we are to live in a country free of tyranny and oppression. But that blessing doesn’t come by accident. It is earned by our men and women in uniform every day.
After fighting for our country, these heroes continue to come home and join the ranks of our veterans. Our veterans are our friends, our children, our neighbors, our brothers, and our sisters. There are nearly one million in Ohio alone. We must fight to ensure that these veterans have access to the healthcare they so rightfully deserve. I am honored to have veterans working in my office, as they remind me every day through their hard work and dedication how fortunate we are to have them working for the people of Ohio. This weekend is a time to recognize all of these women and men who have served, and to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
This Memorial Day is particularly significant because this year marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, one of the most important events in American history and a momentous turning point in the Second World War. On June 6, 1944, American troops in concert with Allied Forces from free nations around the world launched the invasion of Normandy to carry out what they knew would be a perilous mission to defeat well-entrenched German defenders. It was to be a day that would cost thousands of American lives, but it was also to be a victory that signaled the end of Nazi domination of Europe. One way we are commemorating D-Day is through a bill that I authored to add President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inspiring prayer to the nation on the morning of D-Day to the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, at no cost to taxpayers. FDR’s words brought strength and comfort to many during one of the most challenging times for our nation and remind us of the enduring power of prayer.
Today, as new threats to freedom arise, we should remember the lessons from the Greatest Generation. President Reagan put it best as he commemorated the 40th anniversary of D-Day, saying, “Strengthened by their courage and heartened by their valor and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.” On this Memorial Day, let us recommit to those ideals and remember the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect them.
Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, is a US Senator serving Ohio.