News / Europe

Veterans Reflect on Significance of D-Day 70th Anniversary

Veterans Reflect on Significance of D-Day 70th Anniversaryi
Mariama Diallo
June 04, 2014 10:29 PM
On June 6, 2014 millions around the world will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France - a turning point in World War II that changed the course of history. The anniversary revives memories for aging World War II veterans, but also is meaningful for others who were affected directly or indirectly by the war. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Veterans Reflect on Significance of D-Day 70th Anniversary
Mariama Diallo
On June 6, 2014, millions around the world will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France - a turning point in World War II that changed the course of history. The anniversary revives memories for aging World War II veterans, but also is meaningful for others who were affected directly or indirectly by the war. 

At the World War II memorial in Washington, hundreds come every day to pay tribute to the friends and families they lost during the war. Cewin Johnson is among them.  Now 89 years old, he was only 19 when he lost his arm fighting in France.

“We were fighting in the village of Oberhofen which was about 20 miles west of Strasbourg and we’ve been in that village three times trying to take the town," he said. "We’ve gotten the Germans all boxed up at the end of the village. Gary heard the tank coming up the street and he sent the artillery in and hit the tank and that’s when I got hit too."

Ninety-two-year-old Frederick Douglass Williams is another veteran.  He says the hardest part of going to war was thinking about the loved ones left behind.

“I like what Winston Churchill said: they also served who sit and wait," he said. "Mothers, sweethearts; my poor mother, she went crazy. We knew and expected that but not them. 'Where is my son?'”

For World War II veterans and many others June 6, 1944 - D-Day - will never be forgotten. The Allied landings on Normandy marked the start of France's liberation from Nazi occupation, and ultimately led to Germany's defeat.   

“It’s one of the most important military operations ever conducted, probably the largest amphibious assault ever undertaken," said Christopher Yung, author of a book on the planning for D-Day. "It took a great deal of military thinking, ingenuity, perseverance."

The invasion was a crucial turning point.  

"It’s the first step in which the Allies were able to get back into the continent," Yung said. "The Germans had erected a gigantic fortress to prevent the allies from returning."

Brigadier General Bruno Caitucoli is the defense attaché at the French embassy in Washington. His 94-year-old father fought in the war.

"What my dad really explained to me so many times is the imporance of being ready to defend what is not really given: which is freedom, democracy, etcetera," he said.

In his office hangs a photo - a reminder of the sacrifice made during World War II.

"This picture shows Omaha Beach, bloody Omaha with the two flags, French and American flags together and about 3,000 human beings forming the letters of: We Will Never Forget, and on top of that, on top of Omaha beach, you have Coleville Cemetery," Caitucoli said.

Many died to make the invasion a success, but their sacrifice paved the way for Nazi Germany's surrender in May 1945.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jean Kapenda from: USA
June 04, 2014 2:07 PM
History books rarely mention that D-Day was chosen based on the intelligence gathered at that time that Hitler's stockpile of industrial diamonds from the Congo had fallen to very low levels, meaning that the German military-industrial complex was already paralyzed. In other words, every airplane, tank, etc lost during the war would never be replaced. The United States and England were very successful in halting the supply of industrial diamonds from the Congo to Germany during WWII.

On the other hand, the Belgian Congo became of the key providers of strategic minerals to the United States used to manufacture a sizable portion of the weaponry, military vehicles, airplanes, etc. that landed in Normandy.

Finally, General Leslie, the Head of the Manhattan Project, wrote in his memoir that without the uranium from the Congo, the allies would have not been the first with the atomic bomb that ended the war in the Pacific and Asian fronts.

No matter how we look at WWII, the Congo played a decisive role in the end of the worst tyranny the world ever experienced.
In Response

by: Jean Kapenda from: USA
June 04, 2014 3:38 PM
I meant, General Leslie Groves.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs