D-Day veterans honored at World War II Memorial
WASHINGTON (WJLA) - At the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, D-Day veterans gathered with family members to honor the 70th anniversary of the amphibious assault on Europe that turned the tide of World War II.
Speakers at Friday's wreath laying included Toby Roosevelt, the great-grandson of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; and Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of General Dwight Eisenhower.
One Veteran at the event told an ABC 7 News reporter that the seas were so rough that day in the English Channel that many soldiers battled seasickness.
Another told a reporter that if he could use just one word to describe the day, he would say, "sacrifice."
Today, they are all part of a dwindling generation of men who can say - they were there.
"I remember that day," says Francis Shea, a radioman in the Navy. He recalls being in Normandy during that critical fight against Nazi Germany.
"The most vivid memories were these bodies - young men floating alongside our ship as we were heading into the beach. There were many of them," Shea recalls.
Veteran Robert Levine said, "We just never thought we'd live to see the next day. That's a tough way to live, and that's why we are so appreciative today."
As wreaths were laid at the memorial's freedom wall to honor each of the allied nations that took part in the campaign, Eisenhower's granddaughter read his message that was given to the troops, just hours before the historic attack.
"The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory."
Under Friday's vivid blue sky, the turning point of World War II was remembered and honored by those who are still able to give first-hand accounts of that day.
"I'm just fortunate that I'm here. A lot of my buddies are not here," said veteran Phil Slack. "I can't tell you how much I appreciate it."
Also on Friday, at a ceremony in France on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, President Obama called D-Day a "powerful manifestation of America's commitment to human freedom."