The soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, were honored by Carroll County officials Thursday — 75 years after many gave their last full measure of devotion.
“A lot of folks say the World War II generation was the greatest generation, and I have absolutely no doubt that was the case,” Del. Haven Shoemaker said at the county commissioners’ weekly meeting.
Members of the 29th Division Association Post 48, which serves to keep the history of the 29th Infantry Division alive, were present at the commissioners’ meeting. Among them was World War II veteran Junior Fisher, of Westminster.
“Time flew,” in the 75 years since that attack, Fisher said after the meeting.
He was drafted and entered the U.S. Navy about one month after D-Day on July 17, 1944. Fisher was 17 years old then and left school to serve in the amphibious force.
He believes young people “should learn about what happened” in World War II. Fisher went on to serve in the U.S. Army, giving a total of 40 years to the military.
Shoemaker praised the 29th Division for its “key role” in the invasion of Normandy, the pivotal Allied attack that changed the course of the war. These servicemen stormed Omaha Beach along with the 1st Division, according to the association’s website.
“They hit those beaches against machine gun fire and just unbelievable conditions,” Shoemaker said. “The heroism that they exhibited that day is unparalleled.”
Shoemaker presented a Maryland General Assembly citation to the 29th Division Association in recognition of the 75th anniversary. Cold War veteran Walter Dyky accepted the citation on behalf of the association.
“It was very touching, very moving, and it showed there is a lot of support out there for veterans,” Dyky said after the presentation.
The commissioners echoed Shoemaker’s praise.
“Forty percent never came home, and that is an incredible mark of all the D-Day operations,” said Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5. “The execution of the young men and women that served and gave their all and their last full measure cannot be underestimated or undervalued.”
Rothstein presented a proclamation on behalf on the commissioners, marking June 6, 2019, as 29th Infantry Division Day.
“Just keep in mind, the reason we’re all here celebrating this 75 years later is because of what happened in 1944,” said Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2.
Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, expressed his “sincere appreciation” for all veterans.
“The reason our Constitution thrives over all these years is because of the sacrifice made by men and women such as yourself,” Bouchat said.
Board President Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, recalled his visit to the American war cemetery in Florence, Italy.
“It was unbelievable and it’s something that made a mark on our lives forever,” Wantz said.
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Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, was absent, though his signature appeared on the proclamation, along with those of the other commissioners.