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"Thank God for the United States Navy!"

By Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, Stars and Stripes, Monday, October 13, 2008

“Thank God for the United States Navy”

This was the message Maj. Gen. Leonard Gerow sent to Gen. Omar Bradley as the Allies established their beachhead at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. 

Last month, I joined with American, French and other veterans who gathered on the windswept dunes above Utah Beach to dedicate the new Navy memorial, commissioned by The Naval Order of the United States. The bronze and granite monument honors the heroes of the sea services who fought and died on “the longest day.”

History has recorded and the world will long remember the many sacrifices made that day.  On that cold June morning in 1944, the largest armada in history was in the English Channel with hundreds of thousands of American, British, Canadian and other Allied soldiers embarked. Those brave troops swept ashore in wave after wave under the cover of naval gunfire. Along Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword beaches, the Allied Expeditionary Force engaged in one of the most decisive military battles in history.

The fight for freedom at Normandy would determine the future, not just for France, but for Europe, and victory in the global conflict of World War II. Victory was made possible by the support of Allied naval forces. The brave young men who fought and died on D-Day taught us all a profound lesson by their examples of courage and sacrifice. Freedom must be fought for and defended by every generation.

Freedom and liberty are again being challenged, and another great generation has stepped forward to protect and defend our nation. On Oct. 13, the Navy’s 233rd birthday, the message of a grateful nation is the same as it was on D-Day, “Thank God for the United States Navy.”

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