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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