NORMANDY, France ― “You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months,” wrote Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, supreme Allied commander, in his now famous order starting Operation Overlord on
June 6, 1944, which ultimately brought about the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany. “The eyes of the world are upon you.”
With these now famous words, General Eisenhower ordered hundreds of thousands of brave Allied soldiers into battle on a day now commonly referred to as D-Day.
On this, the 67th anniversary, troops from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, along with the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the U.S. Air Force Reserve and U.S. Air Forces in Europe, as well as numerous re-enactment and veterans organizations, all pulled together for nearly a full week of ceremonies, events and commemorations in honor of the historic events of 1944 in the Normandy region of France.
Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Div. joined World War II veterans and re-enactors for a ceremony at Angoville au Plain, France, where wreaths were laid at a monument honoring the sacrifices made by Soldiers during the war.
A monument at Angoville au Plain is dedicated to medics Robert E. Wright and Kenneth J. Moore, members of the 101st Airborne Div., who rendered medical aid to 80 wounded soldiers and a local child during the invasion.
“What we do here today honors the sacrifices of the men from many armies who gave their all for their countries, their fellow paratroopers and for freedom,” said
Maj. Gen. Jim Huggins, the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Div.
“For the French, this is very important. It’s our duty to keep this memory alive for our future generations,” said Dominique J. Vanhaeren, a World War II re-enactor with the Normandy Memory Club. “The French will never forget what happened in 1944.”
Additionally, at a ceremony in Chef du Pont, France, the citizens paid their respects as various city officials laid wreaths to honor the Soldiers who died while fighting for the freedom of the French people.
“It feels good,” said Raymond Fary, a World War II veteran, when speaking about attending the ceremony at Chef du Pont. “The French people really appreciate us here.”
Picauville, France, was the site of another memorial remembering the crash of a C-47 that was shot down during airborne operations in June 1944.
“The people here were brave. Some of you here today were some of those who went out to the crash site despite the risk to yourselves,” said Col. Stephen Lambert, 86th Airlift Wing vice commander. “They gave medical aid to the living and honorably recovered the remains of the dead.”
The French citizens continue to show their appreciation to the American service members.
Families in and around Sainte Mere Eglise, France, invited Soldiers into their homes for dinner, solidifying a friendship that grows stronger with each generation that passes.
The local French people regard the World War II vets as celebrities and often ask them for autographs.
“One of the reasons why we come back every year is because of the respect the citizens show us,” said Dorothy Leveitsky Sinner, who served as a nurse during World War II. They are happy to see us and they thank us for being here.”