Much was written last month about the 70th anniversary of D-Day and of the gallant men and women who stormed the beaches of Normandy in June of 1944.
For the 60th anniversary, President Ronald Reagan journeyed to the cemetery in Normandy where many of the Americans who died during that invasion are buried and said that the only “foreign soil that we Americans claim is the final resting places of our heroes.”
President Barak Hussein Obama was also eloquent last month when he spoke from the Normandy beach about the debt we owe the Americans who participated in that undertaking. This anniversary is poignant for the reason that it may be the last one attended by many of the veterans who participated in the D-Day invasion.
Presidential historian Michael Bechloss has written in the New York Times about the document that lay on General Eisenhower’s desk as the Normandy invasion began in which he wrote that if the invasion failed the fault was his and no one else was responsible. Bechloss also wrote of how in later years Eisenhower cried in public several times when he thought about the young men who lost their lives on June 6, 1944.
Much has also been written about what steps can be taken to insure that we don’t forget the sacrifices made by those soldiers who were part of what has become known as the “greatest generation.”
One group of citizens who are doing their part to maintain the memory of their efforts is the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team that is based in Frederick.
According to Sharon Bennett, the public affairs officer, members of that team partnered with, among others, the European-based Round Canopy Parachute Team. They dropped five consecutive days on six of the drop zones that were used by Allied paratroopers to begin the invasion of the Germans on D-Day.
While one of the surviving members of the units who parachuted into Normandy said he was fearful as he began to descend, he took comfort from the fact that he could not see the English Channel because that waterway was filled with Allied vessels on their way to France. Bennett reports that the paratroopers from her unit were struck by the beauty of the French coast as they began their descent from the heavens .
The World War II Airborne Demonstration Team trains at its headquarters in Frederick and uses a World War II era C-47 Skytrain for static line parachute jumps. The next event planned, Bennett reports, is a Summer Jump School and Open Hanger Day July 26 in Frederick. The event is free and open to the public.
William F. O’Brien is an Oklahoma City attorney.