It’s easy to see why the Americans who served and fought during World War II are called the Greatest Generation.

Driven by a profound love for America, they offered their all, including their lives, in defense of this nation.

The values they fought for back in 1944 are still worth defending today.

As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the largest joint airborne and amphibious operation in human history, we must honor the fallen, not just with remembrance, but with a renewed commitment to safeguarding America’s freedom.

At Goodfellow Field (now Goodfellow AFB) in San Angelo in Texas, Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) squadron leader Jimmie E. Parker reads the San Angelo Standard-Times’ reporting of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Photo Quest/Getty Images)

On June 6, 1944, Allied troops jumped off their landing crafts into chaos, carnage, and death. Something pushed those men toward the machine-gun fire on Omaha Beach in France.

Something pushed them into the volunteer line after Pearl Harbor, through basic training, and into occupied Europe. That something was a powerful belief that freedom is a God-given right.

Unyielding in their convictions, they stood resolute against Nazi tyranny. The unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were the basis of the American experiment and the driving force for American troops to storm the beaches of Normandy. 

The spirit of sacrifice that defined the Greatest Generation is desperately needed as we face challenges unlike any since World War II. 

Our adversaries are once again mounting against us. Communist China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea are united in their animosity toward the United States and the principle of self-determination for a free people. Their hostility has escalated beyond mere rhetoric; they have taken decisive actions.

A European nation has been invaded for the first time since World War II. Iranian terrorist proxies are at war with our ally Israel and have attacked American service members. Meanwhile, China is waging an aggressive economic and cyber war against the United States, staging military drills near Taiwan, buzzing American fighter jets, and claiming international waters as its own. 

Despite the multiplying threats facing our nation, our military is suffering from the most critical recruitment crisis in three decades.

With service branches missing recruitment goals by the thousands last year, a dangerous trend emerges: a decline in young Americans’ willingness to serve. 

Why are fewer young people choosing to put on the uniform? A significant problem is that the radical Left has worked tirelessly to persuade younger generations that America isn’t worth defending. 

Repulsed by the principle of American exceptionalism, the Left—along with its allies in the legacy media and at prestigious universities—pushes the narrative that America was founded on racism and thus our institutions must be discarded in favor of a collectivist socialist regime. 

Teaching the next generation that America is unworthy of admiration poses a significant problem.

People naturally fight to protect what they love. The Greeks used the word “thumos” to describe the spirit that makes one a good warrior—a “spiritedness,” usually inspired by the love of one’s own. However, when an entire generation is taught to reject their own country and the principles it was founded upon, an existential crisis is inevitable. 

That’s where the United States is headed unless patriots step in and right the ship. 

Each generation reflects on those who came before. Past generations have looked toward the courage and fortitude of the men who took Europe back from the grasp of tyranny eight decades ago.

But more recent generations instead look to the radicals of the 1960s, the counterculture revolutionaries of the 1970s, the Hollywood and music icons of the 1980s and ’90s, the reality stars of the 2000s, and the social media influencers of the 2010s.

It’s no wonder that younger Americans are less willing to serve when their role models champion self-centeredness instead of a “we before me” mentality. Civilizations are defined by what they value, what they honor, and what they shame.

We desperately need a cultural course correction. 

We must once again boldly champion the ideals our Founding Fathers fought for. We need to tell the complete story of America, the good and the bad. In doing so, we teach our children that Americans pioneered modern representative government, equal treatment under the law, the separation of powers, consent of the governed, and freedom from governmental oppression.

We must remind the next generation that wearing the uniform is an honor. It falls upon us, the torchbearers of freedom, to share the stories of those who came before us.

By explaining the bedrock principles of our constitutional republic, we can ignite a fire in the next generation and a dedication to safeguarding the freedoms we hold so dear.

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