Sunday, June 7, 2009

D-Day: Real Heroes

I wandered onto Cabrillo Boulevard opposite the ocean hoping to get a glimpse of the D-Day activities at the Veterans Memorial Building.  

Parked in front were a World War II-vintage jeep, truck and tank.  I photographed them all including some awestruck onlookers who questioned the 2 military posted on the tank.

I noticed a gentleman wearing his WWII veteran baseball cap and while I asked him about his experiences (in the Pacific), we were interrupted with an announcement that the program and luncheon would about to begin.  

Richard L. Long asked if I was attending and when I said that I didn't have reservations, he took my arm and said as we headed up the stairs, "Well, you're going now!"

Representatives of consulates for Great Britain, Canada, and France spoke.  Mr. John Blankenship, Retired U.S. Major Robert Forties, David Gonzales, and the Reverend Dr. Charles C. Griffin recognized D-Day participants and all other World War II military and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, Allied national anthems, and an invocation.

I was both touched and honored to be in the company of such heroic men.    I felt an urgency that the stories these men shared should be experienced and cherished by more than the couple hundred people present.  

We watched an emotional D-Day film which incorporated parts of the "The Longest Day" and "Saving Private Ryan."   

Finally, the entire auditorium assembled at the front of the building to observe a fly over by vintage aircraft.  

Thank you, Mr. Long, for sweeping me into one of the most beautiful and powerful experiences of my life.   I suspect we have a many stories ahead of us.   

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Diane J Standiford said...

It is pathetic how we leave so many vets alone after they return. How dare we? Great post.

Donna Gibbs said...

What an awesome post! I'm so glad you got to go to the ceremony. Next time you see Mr. Long please thank him for me. I am very grateful for his service to our country.

hucknjim said...

Wonderful post. I have the privilege to have met and gotten to know some WWII vets and to count a few as friends. They know how much I appreciate their service, and I hope your meeting Mr. Long leads to the sort of friendship I have been blessed to experience. They are wonderful people and have enriched my life.

Ms. 50something said...

I am so glad I am not alone! There are others out there who whole-heartedly recognize and thank our veterans for the sacrifices they have made.

Occasionally my Toastmasters group says the Pledge of Allegiance. Next week when I am Toastmaster (for the first time!), I'll not only lead in the Pledge but I'll suggest that it become a regular part of the meeting.

In addition, maybe I should take it to the next step and see if the schools will pair up vets and high school students.

Thanks, all, for your feedback. It really lets me know that I've struck a nerve.

Ms. 50something said...

From Mary Mash (sent directly to Susan Levine:

Makes me think of my Dad and all his stories from the war. I wish I had recorded them. What a nice chance meeting for you, Richard looks like a nice guy. I agree that not enough people hear their stories. They should be honored in more ways than once a year at a meeting of their own kind.