Seventy years ago, thousands of America's young and courageous men were landing on the shores of Normandy, France. The names of "Omaha," "Utah" and other beaches became emblazoned in American history. On that June 6 morning, my first memory of history came alive as my parents and I heard the radio voice of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"Our sons, pride of our nation, today have landed on the shores of France," President Roosevelt announced. "Some may return, some may never return. May God protect them always. Thy will be done."
Twenty-five years ago today, joining with historian Steven Ambrose and some 30 D-Day veterans, I had the honor of working with those true heroes who joined together to retrace the steps of the Normandy invasion as part of an initiative to establish a national D-Day Museum that today draws thousands of American and worldwide visitors.
Special memories of Dick Winter, Carwood Lipton and other modest, courageous men still linger as "living history" when we retrace the steps they took in those landings and the subsequent action to end the nightmare era of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
June 6 is a day when we can and should take pride in the meaning of American democracy and the legacy of sacrifice to enable that meaning to carry on. In today's challenging times, may the lessons of D-Day continue to help enable the America of today to stand strong and be forthright in our commitment to what has made and should continue to enable our nation to remain committed to real democracy, not political rhetoric.
George S. Wills, Brooklyn
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