Today marks the 80th anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy. D-Day was not just a turning point of World War II, it was also a defining moment for our republic.

America entered the war as a nation still struggling to shrug off the Great Depression. It finished the war as a global superpower and the irrefutable leader of the free world.

This was only possible because of the brave Americans who stormed the beaches of Normandy. At the time, many of these young men had never been to Europe. In fact, most had never left their hometowns. But here they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the liberation of people half a world away from home.

They did so because they knew that the fate of the world rested upon their shoulders. They knew that, if they failed, the rights and freedoms that made America the greatest country in the world might not survive another generation.

So, they stormed the beaches of Normandy and they kept marching until they liberated France, routed Nazi Germany, and exposed the evils perpetrated upon the Jewish people in concentration camps.

The soldiers who fought at Normandy, along with those who served in all of World War II, are some of the greatest Americans to have ever lived. Unfortunately, only a handful are still left among us.

That’s why it’s important now, more than ever, to recognize their bravery and boldness.