On June 6, 1944, with American and Allied paratroopers positioned behind enemy lines, Allied forces waded through waist-deep waters amid hailing enemy gunfire from above to storm the beaches of Normandy, France, in an invasion called Operation Overlord. It was a joint naval, air and land assault that marked the start of the Allied forces’ campaign to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe. More than 6,000 Americans gave their lives that day, but their sacrifice and heroism marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

As we near the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, now 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 an 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 principals of democracy, and because of their valor and sacrifice, they set a high standard for future generations to follow.

This Memorial Day, I encourage you to pause and reflect on the sacrifice of the more than 1 million Americans who have given their lives in defense of our great nation. From the Revolutionary War in the late 1700s, to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East today, brave men and women have answered the call to defend our homeland and protect the freedoms we enjoy today.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Memorial Day is personal for me, and it reminds me of the cost of freedom. I am reminded of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They gave their best, and ultimately, they gave their all. And I pray for the families of the fallen, who bear the sacrifice of their loved ones’ selfless devotion.

In a little over a week, I will have the privilege of leading a Congressional delegation to Normandy to honor our greatest generation — the heroes who fought, and for many, who paid the ultimate price on D-Day. America is great today because of their sacrifice.

Almost 75 years since the end of World War II, Americans are still willing to pay the ultimate price for our freedom. More than 2 million men and women have signed up to join today’s all-volunteer force, despite the fact that we live in a world of unknown and dangerous threats.

These courageous Americans are deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, and there is no mission or challenge they cannot rise to meet. With much uncertainty comes one constant: the courage and dedication of America’s armed forces.

I encourage everyone to join me this Memorial Day in reflecting on the sacrifice of our U.S. service members. We honor and mourn those who paid the ultimate price to protect our freedoms. Without the selfless devotion of our armed forces, we would not be living in the greatest country on the face of this Earth.

On this Memorial Day, and every day, may God bless our fallen service men and women, and may God bless the United States of America.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs 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.

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