MERCEDES, June 6 - U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa was in Normandy, France, on Friday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Along with French President Francois Hollande, President Obama and 33 other members of Congress, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hinojosa visited the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial where nearly 9,400 American soldiers are buried on the bluffs overlooking the English Channel.
Hinojosa noted that the Normandy invasion was the largest seaborne invasion in World history. It also heralded one of the bloodiest and most significant battles of World War II. Allied Forces landed more than 155,000 troops on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, Hinojosa said, with estimates of 10,000 Allied soldiers being killed that day.
Hinojosa said many World War II Veterans who fought on the beaches they called “Hell Beach” were present with the dignitaries. He said the monumental attack by U.S. forces and her allies turned the tide that set up the defeat of the Nazi regime.
“It was a tremendous honor to be in Normandy with some of our World War II Veterans who fought on those same beaches 70 years ago,” said Hinojosa, D-Mercedes. “What they did as young men set the entire world in a new and great direction towards democracy and freedom. I could see in their eyes, when they shared their stories of the horrific battle, of the dead and dying, and of those who never gave up, that they could never forget the hell that this beach became one early morning I am humbled by their bravery and I am so grateful for their patriotism.”
Hinojosa said Americans should never forget the huge sacrifices its troops made for the country. “The freedom we share, and the freedom shared by so many other countries exists because of them. God bless them all.”
Ceremonies took place at Omaha and Sword Beach, two of the five sectors in the Normandy landings. In his remarks, President Obama described Normandy’s hallowed shores as “democracy’s beachhead.” He said the Allied invasions heralded the beginning of a century of freedom movements that spread across continents.
“Nations that once knew only the blinders of fear began to taste the blessings of freedom,” Obama said. “That would not have happened without the men who were willing to lay down their lives for people they’d never met, and ideals they couldn’t live without.”
In her remarks, Pelosi said: “Seven decades later, we are still humbled and awed by the audacity, the bravery and the sacrifice of the Normandy landings. Neither our nation, nor any nation that cherishes the blessings of liberty fought for, bled for and died for on D-Day can ever forget its memory.”
On Thursday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was awarded the French Legion of Honor, Chevalier Rank, at a ceremony on Utah Beach commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landing. The Legion of Honor was founded to recognize eminent accomplishments of service to France.
Dewhurst received the award in recognition of his years of support to the Utah Beach Museum and ongoing dedication to educating the world about World War II and Veterans issues. His father, David Dewhurst, Jr., flew 85 missions during World War II as a B-26 bomber pilot, and led the last D-Day bombing on Normandy's Utah Beach.
“This place, where my father survived bad weather, anti-aircraft fire, and strafing Messerschmitts, is so much more than a beach to our family,” said Dewhurst, whose father was killed by a drunk driver shortly after returning home from the war. “I have been blessed by this region's dedication to the families of WWII veterans from all nations. My family is so thankful for this link to our own personal history and for this connection to a time that must never be forgotten.”
Gov. Rick Perry released the following statement today to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
“Seven decades ago today, a selfless group of our bravest warriors emerged from the choppy waters of the English Channel to lead a mission of liberation across the blood-stained beaches of Normandy and into occupied France. With them they carried the hope of free nations held hostage by the greatest force for evil the world had ever seen. The liberation of Western Europe, Hitler’s annihilation, and the release of the prisoners savagely held in his concentration camps were accomplished in great measure thanks to the soldiers who stormed the beaches that day.
"As we remember the brave souls who fought and died, let us also remember that with each passing day we lose more of the patriotic Americans who committed all they had to the cause of freedom. I urge anyone who knows a World War II veteran to share your appreciation with them so they know just how grateful we are for their service and sacrifice.”