Almost 80 years ago, the Allied assault on Nazi territory landed on the beaches of Normandy. The sacrifice of over 2,500 American troops that day and countless others throughout the rest of the Second World War made the defeat of the Nazis a reality. Today, our servicemembers have not wavered in their commitment to secure freedom for future generations. While Military Appreciation Month has come to a close, Tennesseans show gratitude for our heroes all year long.
The Volunteer State’s military legacy is strong. Tennessee first earned its nickname after state militia volunteers served under General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. Then, when President James K. Polk asked for 2,600 volunteers to fight in the Mexican American War, 30,000 Tennesseans stepped up. Those brave volunteers made history and earned their reputation as some of the hardest-fighting troops in the nation. During World War I, the Tennessee National Guardsmen of the 30th division received more Medals of Honor than any other division in the theater. Our troops once again proved themselves during the Second World War, where the 117th Infantry Regiment became one of the war’s most decorated. Decades later, after terrorists attacked our nation on 9/11, Tennesseans were among the first to brave the front lines in the Global War on Terror.
At home, Tennesseans are reminded every day of our military’s heroic service. In March, the National Guard rushed to stop a wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park from spreading into nearby communities. Last year, our Guardsmen rescued those swept under by deadly flash flooding in Humphreys County, provided clean-up support in the wake of Hurricane Ida, and executed air rescue missions for medical emergencies, including bear attacks and hiking injuries. Tennessee’s National Guardsmen live up to their promise of being “always ready, always there,” and in military communities across the Volunteer State – in Clarksville, Tullahoma, Holston, and Millington – servicemembers proudly defend their nation through research, training, and deployment.
Tennessee owes a debt of gratitude to our troops. We must remain dedicated to supporting our military heroes and the families who make their work possible. During my visit to Fort Campbell last month, I spoke with servicemembers about the resources they need to win on the front lines. In Washington, I am leading the way to improve readiness capabilities for active duty troops, food security for military families, and healthcare access for veterans.
Almost 80 years after the Allied victory began on the beaches of Normandy, we are still unable to repay the sacrifice of our servicemembers. But, we can continue to express our gratitude through action. On this D-Day and every day in the Volunteer State, I join Tennesseans in supporting the heroes who risked their lives for freedom.