On 75th D-Day Anniversary, Isakson Leads Bipartisan Delegation to Normandy
Senators at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 2019, after a ceremony commemorating D-Day’s 75th anniversary.
COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, this week led a bipartisan Senate delegation to Normandy, France, for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion by Allied forces during World War II. The 17-senator delegation joined President Donald J. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron at an official ceremony at the American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer to mark the milestone.
Isakson and U.S. Senators John Barrasso, R-Wyo., John Boozman, R-Ark., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Angus King, I-Maine, James Lankford, R-Okla., Martha McSally, R-Ariz., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Rick Scott, R-Fla., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., met with World War II veterans from the United States who made the trip for the special occasion. The delegation also met with General Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
On June 6, 1944, with American and Allied paratroopers positioned behind enemy lines, Allied forces waded through waist-deep waters amid hailing enemy gunfire to storm the beaches of Normandy, France, in an invasion called Operation Overlord, or “D-Day” as it is commonly referred to today. It was a joint naval, air and land assault marking the start of Allied forces’ campaign to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe. More than 6,000 Americans died that day, but their sacrifice and heroism marked the beginning of the end of World War II.
“As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I could think of no better way to honor our World War II veterans than to be with them for this milestone occasion at the very spot where many of them, their friends and fellow comrades landed 75 years ago today,” said Senator Johnny Isakson. “It is an especially important time to reflect on the sacrifices made by the greatest generation during World War II. The defeat of fascism in Europe and imperialism in the Pacific liberated millions of people across the globe from oppression. Those brave service members fought in the face of great adversity to defend the principles of democracy, and because of their valor and sacrifice, they set a high standard for future generations to follow.”
“It’s a privilege to travel to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. I’m honored to commemorate the heroic, selfless efforts of Wyoming’s D-Day heroes and the Allied forces, and to honor all our World War II veterans,” said Senator John Barrasso. “I will be thinking of my father, a WWII veteran who helped liberate France. He reminded me his entire life of how truly blessed we are to live in America, thanks to the selfless actions of our troops – on D-Day and every day.”
“The courage, strength and determination of members of the Greatest Generation who were called to defend freedom at Normandy will always serve as an inspiration for future generations of Americans,” said Senator John Boozman. “We must honor and continue to defend what they fought for and fulfill our obligation to support all of our veterans and their families.”
“We are here to honor the incredible sacrifices that our soldiers made to defend freedom and literally bring an end to the Nazi regime of terror. Sacrifices made by Americans on D-Day turned the course of the war. It planted the seeds of rebirth for Europe and the Trans-Atlantic partnership that has brought freedom to so many people around the world,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “As we commemorate this pivotal time in history, although today is different than 75 years ago, we recognize that there are marginalized people around the world who need our attention and leadership in order to protect the fundamental rights of all citizens.”
“On June 6, 1944, tens of thousands of courageous soldiers, sailors, and airmen carried out the greatest amphibious troop landing in history to liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny. It was a great privilege to join my Senate colleagues in commemorating the 75th anniversary of this mighty battle and honoring the brave members of our armed forces. The sacrifices made by the thousands of Americans who perished that day, those who survived but have since passed on, and those living today will be forever remembered,” said Senator Susan Collins. “Today’s ceremony was especially meaningful to me because my father was a World War II combat veteran who earned two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star as a result of injuries he sustained in the Battle of the Bulge. It was from him that I first learned to honor, respect, and thank our veterans.”
“It is truly amazing to visit Normandy and honor our service members on the 75th anniversary of D-Day,” said Senator Deb Fischer. “My father served in World War II. Two of my uncles received Bronze Star Citations for their brave service in the European Theater. Our nation is forever grateful for the service, dedication, and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation.”
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues in honoring the American and Allied Forces that courageously stormed the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago today,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “There are few more powerful reminders of the loss of war – as well as the bravery and sacrifice of our armed forces – than what transpired on D-Day. I am profoundly grateful to all who served that day, and in all the days before and since, so that the rest of us could live in peace, prosperity, and freedom.”
“It’s a great honor to join the president and my colleagues in traveling with World War II veterans to honor their service on the 75th anniversary of D-Day,” said Senator Josh Hawley. “The greatest generation stormed the beaches of Normandy in defense of the freedom we enjoy today. We are forever grateful for their sacrifices, and I am humbled to be with them for this historic event.”
“On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we commemorate the incredible valor and heroism of U.S. service members and the Allied forces who fought on behalf of freedom and liberty around the world,” said Senator John Hoeven. “We can never repay the debt we owe to all those who fought and the many who perished during the invasion of Normandy, and we should always remember their sacrifice. It is truly an honor to be able to join WWII veterans in Normandy for this tremendous occasion.”
“Seventy-five years ago, on this day and on this beach, more than 100,000 Allied forces landed in Normandy and turned the tide in the fight against fascism,” said Senator Angus King. “Today, we’ve gathered at the site of this historic battle to honor the lasting contributions made by the heroes who fought on that fateful day, to celebrate the rights that they worked so hard to protect for each of us, to reflect upon the ways we can recommit ourselves to the shared democratic values they fought to defend, and to remember the thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice so that freedom could prevail over tyranny. The impact of the greatest generation’s service is felt to this day, and it is a humbling privilege to join my colleagues to honor their legacy.”
“I am humbled to share this moment at the Normandy Beaches to honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the heroes who took the world on their shoulders and faced almost certain death when they courageously charged these shores to bring freedom,” said Senator James Lankford. “To look out on a field of thousands of crosses in remembrance of the brave soldiers who crossed an ocean to save the world puts the words sacrifice and devotion in perspective. We owe our deepest gratitude to those who gave their last full measure of devotion and saved a continent from tyranny, from Holocaust, and from complete destruction when they came to France that day to help our friends and defeat our enemies. To those who wore the cloth of our nation halfway around the world: we are eternally grateful. To the families they left behind who also sacrificed for our nation: thank you. To the Greatest Generation: we cannot thank you enough for your perseverance, your life lessons, your positive outlook for our nation, and most of all for winning the war that has shaped our nation and the world every day since. I have met many of these heroes both in Oklahoma and when they’ve travelled to D.C., and I can attest that they are our nation’s foundation. The values, work ethic, and bold unapologetic patriotism of the Greatest Generation remain the truest emblems of our American spirit.”
“On the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, it is humbling to be standing on the very beaches stormed by American and Allied forces in Normandy,” said Senator Martha McSally. “D-Day served as a critical turning point in World War II and today marks a day of remembrance for those who laid down their lives here in the fight against evil and tyranny. Their courage, heroism, and sacrifice will never be forgotten. In their honor, Congress must continue to promote freedom around the world and care for our veterans who fought to keep us free.”
“As a Marine, I’m honored to visit Normandy and pay tribute to the brave service members who lost their lives during this operation that changed the course of WWII. Without their bravery and sacrifice, the world might be a very different place today. This military operation, which is the largest and most complex military invasion in human history would not have been possible without the valiant leadership of Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, an Abilene, Kansas, native,” said Senator Pat Roberts. “Today, I’m extremely thankful for Ike’s leadership here in France 75 years ago and I look forward to dedicating the Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall next year, on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, so people from all around the world can pay tribute to Kansas’ favorite son.”
“It is a tremendous honor to join my colleagues and represent the United States and Nevada at today’s ceremony honoring the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, in Normandy France, on the very beach where the invasion took place,” said Senator Jacky Rosen. “Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with one of the heroes of that fateful day, Dr. Leedell Neyland, a World War II veteran who lives in Henderson. At the young age of 22, Dr. Neyland was stationed over 5,000 miles away from home, as a steward aboard a Navy ship off the coast of Normandy. His incredible story is one of bravery, patriotism, and courage. Meeting with Dr. Neyland, making this pilgrimage, and attending this memorial ceremony was a truly moving experience. Hearing Dr. Neyland’s story, and the stories of countless American heroes has only reaffirmed and strengthened my commitment to supporting our veterans in every way I can.”
“My father served in World War II, and was among the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne in Normandy who fought for freedom on this day 75 years ago,” said Senator Rick Scott. “It’s truly humbling to join my colleagues in France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Today, we honor the sacrifices made here by the brave men and women fighting to free Europe from the yoke of tyranny and evil, and we recognize the incredible service of our nation’s military and veterans. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will always work to support our American heroes.”
“On the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, there is no place I would rather be than Normandy, where I can trace the footsteps of the thousands of American soldiers who stormed these beaches and began the liberation of a continent,” said Senator Roger Wicker. “The men who fought, bled, and died here helped end Nazi tyranny in Europe and changed the course of world history. Their courage and devotion to duty will never be forgotten. As the son of a World War II veteran who served in the European theatre, I am especially thankful for their sacrifice. Today, I join all Americans in honoring these heroes.”
“It is an honor to mark this solemn anniversary in the presence of a few of the brave men who came ashore on this day seventy-five years ago,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “They landed on the beaches of Normandy in the face of withering hostile fire from an entrenched enemy, knowing with certainty that many would not survive. What Allied forces accomplished here set in motion Europe’s liberation from the Nazi yoke, but it came at a great cost. I’m thinking today of the young Rhode Islanders – many of them teenagers – who were lost on June 6, 1944, as well as those who survived and carried the memory of that day with them. We honor their sacrifice by remaining committed to our democratic ideals—and to the free and peaceful Europe these men, alongside our allies, fought and died for.”
The D-Day 75th anniversary ceremony was attended by more than 150 veterans, U.S. elected officials, U.S. armed service members, dignitaries from our allied partners in the French government, and other participants. Photos of the delegation at today’s ceremony are available here.
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 116th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as nearly 700,000 veterans.