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Today is the 76th anniversary of Operation Overlord – D Day – and we pause to remember the extraordinary sacrifice made by the Greatest Generation on our behalf. The invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France, ushered in the beginning of the end of the murderous reign of Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party.

We owe these brave men and women everything. Because of their willingness to give their lives in the cause of freedom, Europe has not experienced a war since 1945, and her citizens enjoy the benefits that democratic societies afford. On a personal level, here in the United States, I can choose to build a business, or to work for whomever I wish, and live where I please. I can voice my opinion freely, as I am doing here, without fear of retribution. To state the obvious, had Hitler prevailed, that would not have been the case.

Yet far too often, we see so called “militias” in our streets, armed with heavy weapons, carrying American flags and swastikas, the very symbol of Hitler’s Third Reich. It sickens me to my core. One cannot carry the American flag and the swastika and claim to be an American. It’s one or the other. You are an American or you are a Nazi. Make a choice.

In a study conducted a few years ago, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) found the following: “only 54% of Americans know that Dwight Eisenhower was the supreme commander of the Allied forces. Even among college graduates, 28% could not correctly identify General Eisenhower.  Less than half of Americans surveyed knew that Roosevelt was the president at the time. And 15% said the D-Day invasion happened at Pearl Harbor—including one in 10 college graduates. Only 70% of recent college graduates knew that D-Day occurred during World War II, compared to 98% of those 65 and older with a college degree.

Only 18 percent of colleges and universities require students to take a course in American history of government. Dr.Michael Poliakoff, ACTA’s vice president of policy, stated: “We are allowing students to graduate college with the historical knowledge of a twelfth grader. These college graduates are unlikely to understand the cost of maintaining our nation’s freedom.” (my emphasis)

Democracy is fragile and does indeed come with a cost. It only thrives with our active participation. Educate yourself and those around you. Register to vote and then do so. It is the best possible way to honor the heroes who gave their lives in the cause of freedom.