Three years ago today I was privileged to be on the beaches of Normandy for the ceremonies commemorating the 66th anniversary of the landing of the American and Allied forces on D-Day. It was humbling to stand among the men who fought to give freedom to others. Men who risked everything to free an entire continent that was under the oppression and persecution of Nazi Germany.
One thing I will never forget at Normandy was seeing how respectful the French were by adopting the headstones of fallen American soldiers. It was a tradition started almost immediately after the D-Day invasion in June 1944 – local families made sure that each soldier’s grave near their village was tended to. That tradition has been handed down through the generations, and is continued to today.
The family brought small bags of sand from Omaha beach and had each boy rub the sand on the headstones they visited in order to view the solder’s names more clearly. Then they placed flowers in front of the headstones and took a picture of the boys, before moving on to honor another fallen hero.
I candidly observed this ritual being repeated throughout the afternoon. Many other grateful French families were also there paying their respects to the men who paid the ultimate price for their freedom.
Since the French haven’t forgotten the price of their freedom, I pray that we as Americans never will either. Yet today, a growing percentage of youth lack basic knowledge about WWII or Hitler’s atrocities. Help us change this by passing along the legacy of the Greatest Generation by spreading the word about the iHistory WW2 video contest for today’s junior high and high school students!
And remember to thank a veteran… they’re often disguised as retired businessmen, volunteers, Wal-Mart greeters, and great-grandparents. For more information, visit the iHistory WW2 website or contact me directly at email@example.com
You have probably talked to a hero this week and didn’t even realize it.
Heroes aren’t just the guys in red capes, or the super stars with multi-million dollar incomes. Rather, heroes take all forms – like the elderly man slumped in his chair at the nursing home, the Wal-Mart greeter who proudly wears his veterans hat, or Great-Uncle Carl, who always plays checkers with you when you visit Grandma at Christmas. World War II veterans are among our nation’s finest heroes. Risking everything, they sacrificed much to fight for freedom.
This week, we celebrate one of the most prominent displays of heroism in WW2. On June 6, 1944, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed when troops landed in Normandy, France. The plan was to surprise the German armies and gain a foothold in the area. Even though thousands lost their lives, the maneuver was ultimately successful. Over 100,000 troops began the march through Europe – a march which led to the ultimate defeat of Hitler.
These courageous heroes risked and sacrificed their lives without the spotlight of fame or the glory of reveling in victory, and no guarantee of return.
There’s a chance you have a hero next door. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet a WWII veteran and tell others his or her story. Join the iHistory WW2 video competition and share his or her story with the world.
Join us on Facebook to follow the latest news and join the conversation as we salute veterans. For more information, visit iHistory WW2 or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.