The international commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion occurred in France on June 6.

“Fourscore,” the English term used to signify 80 years, holds particular significance. The number 80 represents the beginning or the span of freedom from oppressors. So, this 80th anniversary of the Normandy beach offensive commemorates the blessing of freedom from tyranny secured on that day, a freedom the Western world still enjoys eight decades later.

But with the state of our world and its leadership, that may not be the case much longer. The commitment to overthrow tyranny, the unified belief in a free world and liberty for all living beings and the fight for those things with their lives are hallmarks of World War II’s Greatest Generation.

“When the world needed heroes, you called the Greatest Generation to courage, and their answer still echoes in the soul of the nation,” Chaplain Karen Meeker prayed in the opening invocation. “Shine your eternal light upon those whose gravestones encircle us as silent sentinels, reminding us of the price of liberty.”

Does that courage still exist in America? Would the next generation be willing to pay that price?

D-Day remains the largest seaborne invasion in world history, an epic feat of coordination, organization, ingenuity, and the indominable human spirit. The 156,000 or so Allied troops that landed on Normandy’s beaches to fight their way into Nazi-occupied France forged the path to victory, securing freedom from tyranny for the entire known world. So, it is right and noble to commemorate those who served in the armed forces on all sides of the conflict, and most importantly, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in order to secure freedom for all mankind.

One way this freedom and sacrifice can be passed down is by including our future generations as participants and witnesses to this honor. This once was a common element of our civic life; now it is marginalized, attacked and too casually set aside.

Proudly, Alabama sent its young men and women to France to represent and to serve at this great commemoration of the Greatest Generation. The Jacksonville State University’s “Marching Southerners” were one group who met this moment, performing and paying homage to these brave soldiers. Also representing our great state were the Boaz High School Marching Pirates.

This high honor and a once-in-a-lifetime experience is one these teenagers will never forget, and will hopefully help replicate to their peers. The greater hope is that the price of freedom and the heart to continue fighting to maintain those freedoms will also be replicated.

Over the last few months, the U.S. has seen our college campuses plagued with that same tyranny and unrest seen during WWII, not from without, but within. Anti-Semitism, intolerance and thuggery have ruled the day rather than heroism, valor and courage. Is this what these brave veterans fought, bled and died for? Are there any among the Millennial and Gen Z generations who would make the same choice these young men and women made in 1944?

American Airlines and Delta Airlines sponsored the flight to France for many of the remaining D-Day veterans. According to NBC News:

Around 200 veterans attended this year’s event, the youngest in their 90s and some over 100. And an unavoidable truth, mostly unspoken this week across Normandy, is that the next five-year anniversary will almost certainly look very different.

D-Day commemorations occur every five years, and many acknowledge that by 2029, there may be no living veterans of D-Day left. If no one is left to honor and tell the story, will it continue to be told? Will their values be passed on?

One of the final honors of the international D-Day ceremony was French President Emmanuel Macron presenting American veterans with the Legion of Honor. Created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, it is France’s highest civilian military award. Many of these veterans, some of whom fought on the beach 80 years ago, received this medal with tears, gravity and humility.

“I wasn’t a hero or anything like that,” one veteran said. “I was just doing my job.”

“For your bravery, for your service to our freedom,” Macron intoned as he pinned the medal on each recipient.

My fear is that we are no longer replicating this type of bravery or this depth of service in our youth. Should this continue to be the norm, the erosion of our freedoms will be definitive and swift.

The commemoration of D-Day should have been the biggest news story of the week. Instead, it was overshadowed by a trial documenting the deception, debasement and debauchery of an American president’s son. As C.S. Lewis wrote roughly 80 years ago in The Abolition of Man:

We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

If we do not instill future generations with the values embodied in this Greatest Generation, the fruit of their sacrifice will ultimately rot, and the tree of liberty will fall.

Jennifer Oliver O'Connell, As the Girl Turns, is an investigative journalist, author, opinion analyst, and contributor to 1819 News, Redstate, and other publications. Jennifer writes on Politics and Pop Culture, with occasional detours into Reinvention, Yoga, and Food. You can read more about Jennifer's world at her As the Girl Turns website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram.

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