This first week of June marks the 67th anniversary of the day more than 100,000 of our best and bravest soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy to begin their trek across Europe to end Hitler's reign and win the war. Under the command of General Eisenhower, our forces ended that fateful day closer to capturing the shores of Normandy, though they suffered great losses. In spite of the casualties they faced, they fought on, following their orders and continuing on their mission knowing only one goal: success. This success is the very notion that our nation must forever embrace, no matter the circumstance, whether it's protecting our freedom or promoting our American businesses. The fight for success is one deeply rooted in our character. We are a country built by our working class--not a bunch of aristocrats.
My father, the late Richard H. Kissell, crossed the English Channel that week a member the 230th Field Artillery, 30th Infantry Division, a unit known as "Old Hickory," a nickname given in honor of President Andrew Jackson. This group was made up primarily of the National Guard units of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, a precursor to today's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team. The 30th was known as the "Workhorse of the Western Front," leading the way at St. LO and Mortain, allowing Patton's unit to continue to dash across France.
"Old Hickory" was also the first Allied unit to successfully enter into Belgium during the war, standing firm in the "Battle of the Bulge" before capturing the first German city of Aachen months later. My Father's story of service to our nation is the very service I wish to continue, grounded and instilled in the community in which he and my mother raised me--one rich with patriotism, pride, and love of our country.
Our American involvement in the war helped to directly unite and lift our country up. Though our hearts broke with the sudden shock and horror of the initial attack on Pearl Harbor, our nation ultimately entered World War II with a deep sense of preparedness. Answering our nation's call, those who did not head off to war helped here at home, keeping our economy growing and answering the new demands and needs of our industries. As our heroes prepared and deployed for combat, another group of folks became heroes too, creating the weapons, ships, trucks and airplanes tasked with protecting our very freedom and bringing our brave soldiers away to war and back home safely.
Our successes on the battlefield were continuously met time and time again by the successes of our workers, answering the call of a nation in need of a new day, and of new industries. I've often said that when Americans make things, our nation becomes greater. As domestic manufacturing and domestic industries find success, our nation finds success. There is no stronger testament to that than America in the early 1940s. As a country, we would not settle for outfitting and equipping our troops with uniforms, weapons or machinery that was not made on our soil. We were going to send our soldiers off with gear made in the very same small towns many of them came from--just like my Father.
While our involvement in World War II helped to spark an industrial revitalization, the successes didn't end with the war. Our ingenuity and hard work not only helped rebuild our own economy, it helped to rebuild a destroyed, but now free, Europe. This will continue to be our finest export, and one we must never discount.
From the front lines of battle to the floors of the automobile, aerospace or textile factories, our nation bound together to lift our country up in a time of need. Some fought, some built, but all helped carry our nation. I'll always remember seeing and reading about the iconic posters that urged folks to continue their hard work to "Keep Producing" and "Keep"em Firing." Our nation had fully embraced the very essence of its self-sustainability, and did so through the love of our troops and the honor of their service.
As we stop this week to think of the brave Americans who stepped upon that shore on D-Day and began their march toward ending Hitler's terror, we must also honor the sacrifice all those heroes behind the scenes at home made as well. There are many ways to show our patriotism and we can all learn a great deal from those who came before us and insisted above all else in showing their pride in the USA by making it here at home, in America.