Bob Goodlatte: Honoring the sacrifices of America’s heroes

The soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, saw some of the most intense fighting of World War II.  Among them on D-Day was Sergeant Robert L. Sales of Madison Heights, a member of the Virginia National Guard Company B, 116th Infantry.   After coming under fierce attack in the first wave of the invasion, Mr. Sales made his way to the seawall.  He was the only man from his landing craft to survive the landing and went on to continue fighting on the front lines. Thanks to his selfless service, the citizens of france were given hope of once again living in freedom.

It was this heroic service that earned Mr. Sales the French Legion of Honor nearly 70 years after the Allied invasion.  He was one of six World War II veterans to receive the French Legion of Honor directly from French President Francois Hollande at a recent ceremony in Arlington.

The French Legion of Honor is France’s highest distinction and is presented as an expression of gratitude for aiding in efforts to liberate france from enemy forces.  Those eligible for the medal must have fought in one of the major French liberation campaigns, which includes the D-Day landing at Normandy.

As a member of “The Greatest Generation,” Mr. Sales joined the Virginia National Guard in 1941.  The actions of Mr. Sales throughout his service in World War II also earned him America’s deepest gratitude and well-deserved military honors, including the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.  While I am pleased that veterans like Mr. Sales have received these distinguished honors, I am reminded that there is much more to be done to show gratitude to our nation’s veterans.

We must continue to thank them by giving them the care and support that is necessary to heal their wounds as well as the educational opportunities they need to succeed.  We thank them when we care for their families, who are oftentimes left behind.  And perhaps most importantly, we thank them by being good stewards of their sacrifices.  When we exercise our right to vote and our right to free speech, we show gratitude.  When we make tough decisions to deal with our national deficit, we thank them.  It is vitally important that as we go about our daily lives, we remember that there are men and women who are willing to give their lives for this country – and we, too, are charged with protecting America’s integrity.

The sixth district has a rich tradition of military service and is home to many veterans.  As we recognize the valiant service of Mr. Sales, we are reminded of all service members who have made tremendous sacrifices and our responsibility to honor them every day.  I extend my sincere congratulations to Mr. Sales on receiving the French Legion of Honor, and I am grateful for his service, and the service of all of our veterans, in the defense of this great nation.

Bob Goodlatte represents the sixth district in Congress.