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D-Day anniversary: Marking the price of freedom

by U.S. SEN. MIKE CRAPO / Contributing Writer
| June 20, 2024 1:00 AM

On the western side of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., stands a blue wall, called the Freedom Wall.

The wall is adorned with 4,048 gold stars — each represents 100 American service personnel who died in World War II or remain missing. This means more than 400,000 Americans gave their lives to not only protect our freedom as Americans, but also the freedom of people across the world. The gold stars are symbols of the gold stars American families often displayed in their windows following notice they lost a family member in the War. The fitting words, “Here We Mark The Price Of Freedom” are inscribed below the Freedom Wall.

Next to the Freedom Wall is a quote by President Harry S. Truman that helps illustrate this price, “The Heroism of our troops . . . was matched by that of the Armed Forces of the nations that fought by our side . . . They absorbed the blows . . . And they shared to the full in the ultimate destruction of the enemy.” The June 6, 1944, Allied forces invasion of Normandy Beach, France as part of Operations Overlord and Neptune, commonly known as D-Day, that was key to the Allied victory on the Western Front of World War II is a central example of the enormous price born for freedom by America and our allies. 

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that more than 73,000 American servicemembers were among the more than 150,000 Allied troops who landed in Normandy. In addition to the U.S., soldiers’ home nations included Great Britain, Canada, Belgium, Norway, Poland Luxembourg, Greece, Czechoslovakia, New Zealand, Australia and French commandos. More than 6,000 American casualties were among the 10,000 Allied forces who were killed, wounded or missing from the Normandy invasion. 

D-Day is a hallmark of Americans’ long history of costly sacrifice to guard and advance freedom. While America can never fully repay this inestimable debt, we can express our deep gratitude every chance we get, including on the recent 80th Anniversary of D-Day. I co-sponsored a resolution expressing the gratitude and appreciation of the U.S. Senate for the acts of heroism and valor by the members of the United States Armed Forces who participated in D-Day and commending those individuals for leadership and bravery in an operation that helped bring an end to World War II. On June 4, 2024, the Senate unanimously passed this resolution also co-sponsored by 61 other Senators, including fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch.

Interestingly, the National Park Service (NPS) responds to questions about why the World War II Memorial was built where it stands in Washington, D.C., with the following, “The question of location is answered partly by the inscription on the massive granite Announcement Stone facing 17th Street,

Here In The Presence Of Washington And Lincoln, One The Eighteenth Century Father And The Other The Nineteenth Century Preserver of Our Nation, We Honor Those Twentieth Century Americans Who Took Up The Struggles During The Second World War And Made The Sacrifices To Perpetuate The Gift Our Forefathers Entrusted To Us: A Nation Conceived In Liberty And Justice.”

At the Memorial, the NPS also notes that the casualties Americans bore in World War II are only surpassed by the loss of more than 620,000 Americans during the Civil War. The commonality among these and our country’s other wars and opportunities for service is brave Americans baring all for the cause of liberty and justice—a price of our freedom beyond worthy of our continual recognition.


Mike Crapo represents Idaho’s First Congressional District in the U.S. Senate. He can be reached at crapo.senate.gov.