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Old 06-07-2004, 01:20 PM
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Default Re: OT - 60 Years After D-Day

Baz,

Sorry to hear about your Dad. Unfortunately, this will be the last major anniversay of D-Day that most if not all of the veterans involved will attend. I just read a piece from an American paper that said there are about 4 million WWII vets left in the States and they are passing at the rate of 1,100 a day.

I also found it interesting that this year not only the Russians made their first appearance with Vladimir Putin in attendance, but French President Jacques Chirac also invited German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and he attended. It was a first for the Germans as well. He summed up the reconciliation nicely, "France's memory of June 6, 1944, is different than that of Germany," Schroeder said. "Nevertheless, we share the same common conviction: We want peace."

Also nice to see the French people still remember and honor. This excerpt is from the Boston Herald:

"People in uniform seem to get a different reaction," said Army Spc. Aiden Bradley of Milton, who was practicing with his artillery unit yesterday for a ceremonial 21-gun salute tomorrow at Utah Beach. "It's definitely breath-taking. The people have been fantastic."

In the sands of Omaha Beach, someone wrote, in huge letters, "God Bless the U.S.A."...

While the young men and women currently serving in the American military have been embraced with open arms, the soldiers who fought here 60 years ago are revered.

William Tucker of Quincy, who landed in Ste-Mere-Eglise with the 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day has returned here many times over the years and said it is always the same. "I was at the American cemetery (above Omaha Beach on Wednesday), and a group of French schoolchildren came up and asked me to sign their notebooks for them. I wish the kids in the United States were like that. The people here know what we did for them, and they make sure their children and grandchildren never forget."

I was particularly impressed with two things. One was the ceremonies at Arromanche. I caught the last part and the voice over ended the event with something like, "This is hallowed ground. There will always be men and women in Normandy who remember. Thank you." I couldn't find a transcript anywhere, but that was the spirit.

The second was Paul Martin's speech at the Juno Beach ceremonies. I don't know if he wrote the lines himself, if they are from somewhere else or if a speech writer crafted them, but they really hit home. This is an excerpt:

"Men fell, and still they took the beach. Men fell and still they took the fortifications. They moved inland," Martin said.

"The waters of the English Channel and the winds of the Normandy coast have erased the footprints these men left in Juno Beach. But not even the great tides of time can wash away the deep impressions they have made in our national history," he said."

"When these soldiers, these men of nerve, are gone, their children will still come here and their grandchildren. ... Canadians will come," Martin said.

"We will come to this lonely patch of beauty to look upon the beaches, to reflect, to marvel, to feel the tears rise and the heart pound, to say a silent thank-you," Martin said.

While our Canadian Prime Minister was obviously talking about Canadians, it's true for all who participated.

Cheers,

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