To install this webapp, tap share then Add to Home Screen.


To install this webapp, please open in Safari.

NGAUS Helps Mark D-Day Anniversary in France

06-11-24 WR D-Day WEBSITE
06-11-24 WR D-Day WEBSITE
Washington Report

Some NGAUS leaders were among those in France last week to help commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

They paid their respects to the National Guardsmen and other service members who fought on June 6, 1944, one of the most consequential days of World War II.

D-Day launched the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, an operation which ultimately liberated Western Europe from Nazi Germany.

"It was the trip of a lifetime," said retired Maj. Gen. Francis M. McGinn, the president of NGAUS and the National Guard Educational Foundation.

"It is truly hallowed ground," he added of Normandy. "It literally puts you back in time."

McGinn and his wife Kerry were among a small group of people who visited France on the association’s behalf June 3-9.

The group also included Maj. Gen. Janson "Durr" Boyles — the chairman of NGAUS and the NGEF — and Will Roulett, the deputy director of the NGEF.

The NGEF owns and maintains the National Guard Monument on Omaha Beach.

The concrete structure — which honors the hundreds of thousands of Guardsmen who fought in Europe during World Wars I and II — was a key part of the group’s recent trip.

The group also visited the American Cemetery in Normandy, the 29th Infantry Division Monument in Vierville-sur-Mer and Utah Beach during their stay in France.

The NGAUS delegation laid wreaths at both the National Guard and 29th ID monuments on June 4.

The group then placed flowers at the water line of the Atlantic and on the National Guard Monument on June 6.

"We are here on this beach at this place in this moment to simply honor what they did this morning years and years ago," Boyles said during a sunrise ceremony at Omaha Beach on June 6 for the service members who fought on D-Day.

"We recognize the lives of men who in this 'vivid air signed it with honor,'" he continued, quoting the poet Stephen Spender. "I can think of no other words to describe what the men that we honor here today did."

President Ronald Reagan quoted the same line from Spender's poem "The Truly Great" during remarks at Pointe Du Hoc, France, for the 40th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 1984.

During D-Day, the 29th ID’s 116th Infantry Regiment landed in the first wave on Omaha Beach.

The regiment lost a third of its strength due to death and injuries during the landing; Omaha Beach became known as the toughest beach stormed.

The 29th ID featured Guardsmen from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia when D-Day occurred.

The Allies faced steep odds on D-Day, but the invasion marked a turning point in their favor on World War II’s Western Front.

D-Day’s anniversary is now marked every five years, and events commemorating that fateful date today often include parachute jumps, parades and historical reenactments.

This year’s anniversary included visits to Normandy last week from President Joe Biden and Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

"Our country couldn’t have liberated France without the contributions of the National Guard — no doubt," McGinn said.

"If that invasion failed, history would have been written in a different way," he concluded.

— By Mark Hensch