During a specific interview discussion Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Gill and Leahy spoke to Congressman Mark Green live from Normandy to discuss the tone in France and how it was important to remember what price is paid for our freedom in America.
Gill: One of our good friends Congressman Mark Green is in Normandy. Actually commanded troupes at Sainte Mere Eglise where the 82nd Airborne parachuted in to start fighting the Germans. And he’s at Normandy right now giving us an on the spot report right now. Mark good to have you with us.
Green: Thanks Steve how are you? Thanks for having me on the show.
Gill: As we’re watching some of these images this morning on Fox the potency of this day comes through the TV screen. It must be even more intense to be there.
Green: Yeah I really hope that the case for the folks back home because I couldn’t help cry a little bit. You know when you think of the incredible bravery and the sacrifice and the dreams that those young people that were never fulfilled because they gave their life for the freedom of Europe and the freedom of the world.
The guys and gals who fought to free France and to free the world really from Nazi tyranny. And an empire that pledged to live a thousand years and it was snuffed out appropriately by brave Americans, French-Canadians, Aussies, and there were a ton of forces in the allied army that stormed these beaches. Obviously, we’re here today to honor our American brothers.
Gill: As you yesterday were sharing a video image of the beach itself. It looks peaceful It looks like a holiday type season would take place there and yet 75 years ago today it was a scene of carnage and battle and life and death struggle.
Green: You think of nine thousand people dying in a day or over the course of a couple of days in a battle. That’s an enormous price to pay on the toe hold on the European continent. But that’s what it cost. Saving Private Ryan did as good a job as possible in cinematography to recreate that moment when the bullets are coming at you and your friends are dying and being blown up. Just standing on that beach and thinking of the distances they had to cover I’m just blown away by it.
Gill: And then scaling those cliffs and certainly the white crosses that we see are such a testament to what was sacrificed to win. Now you commanded troops that are the legacy of those that parachuted in Sainte Mere Eglise. Tell us a little bit about that.
Green: Yeah I got the unbelievable privilege and by the way the aircraft you hear in the background. I got the unbelievable privilege to command a paratroop for infantry company in the five zero six. Nothing like commanding one hundred and fifty air force troopers in America’s army. And of course, the 506 was part of the airborne operation. The armada of the unit comes there from the jumper. Meaning they jump before the attack.
And of course, the paratrooper who was hung up on the chapel the steeple there in Sainte Mere was a five zero six troop. So I plan on spending a little time over there just touring the battlefield of the units that I got to command. It will be very emotional for Tammy and I but we’re excited to be here and to just reflect. The goal here is to never forget the price for the freedom that actually cost us. I’m here to be a part of that memory.
Gill: Now I don’t know if you paratroopers like you Mark are as tough today as those guys. You had the 97-year-old, Tom Rice who parashooted in on that day (Green chuckles) 75 plus one year ago parachuted in again yesterday. I mean this guy 97 years old. I can barely go up steps.
Green: Yeah it’s impressive. All of these guys are harder than superman’s kneecap. I got to talk with a bunch of them this morning. I went into the WWII Veterans pens and just held their hands and talked to them and heard their stories. It’s fascinating. Chills up and down my spine since early this morning.
Gill: They’re so humble and they recount so often in the interviews we’ve been watching that they aren’t the heroes are the ones that didn’t come home.
Green: Yeah and that’s absolutely right. When people talk about that with us Iraq and Afghanistan you know it’s we’re going to say the same thing every time. The guys who came home with a flag over their coffin. They’re the heroes and they’re the ones we must never ever forget.
Gill: There are about 60 other members of Congress in this congressional delegation that are there. There’s so much fighting in Washington. Is their unity at least on this day?
Green: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve seen a lot of Democrats and Republicans getting together. Folks reflecting and talking about this. The Presidents speech was very uniting and very respectful of the sacrifices that have been made. I think both parties were listening in awe and both felt positive about his comment. And of course President Macron as well. He basically thanked, I’m going to try not to cry, he said, “We owe the existence of our nation to America.” And that was very very good of him to say that.
Gill: And we can say likewise. but for the French in the American Revolution, we wouldn’t have secured ours as well.
Green: Yeah. If I could have added anything to President Trump’s speech. I would have said, “Well we’re just paying you back.” (Green laughs)
Leahy: Senator Green this is Michael Patrick Leahy with a question. I don’t know if you saw the news report that apparently Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said she didn’t want to impeach President Trump she wanted to put him in prison. Is that appropriate for her to say that on the day that the President is commemorating a D-day in Normandy.
Green: It’s never appropriate to say that. It’s ridiculous hyperbole and she should not say that on any day. And especially not today. It’s just very disappointing but you know she’s being pushed by certain elements of her party. It’s not all Democrats but it is a certain strong subset of the Democrats in Washington that is so vocal and so pushy on this issue and she I think for her own survival as Speaker feels like she has to rise to that level of discourse. Unfortunate, disappointing but that’s where we are today.
Gill: Yeah this is a day to keep the focus on those brave men and brave moments on this day 75 years ago. But the politics are never far away. The images of this day. The images and news coverage of President Trumps visit with the Queen, with British leaders over the last several days. Man, I don’t know that the President couldn’t have had a better home run politically than he has the last several days.
Green: He’s done a spectacular job. He’s handled all of the various opportunities to show America’s greatness very well. When he was in England and in the various ceremonies that he attended there and of course today and his speech was fantastic. I did not hear a single person, including any opposing parties, say anything negative about his comments. They were great. Very well done. He’s just handled this very very well.
Gill: As you’ve spent time today there, what’s your final take away. If you were summing it up, what’s your take away?
Green: Well I think the thing that’s most important is just to remember the price that freedom costs us. And to always remember that we have to be ever vigilant to any encroachments in freedom because both China and Russia, and Islamic jihadist terrorists, they want to take that freedom away. We have to stand ever vigilant. And we need a strong military and we need to support our men and women in uniform and never forget those who paid the price for freedom.
Listen to the full segment here.
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Mark Green” by Mark Green.