Hundreds of people visit the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. every day. Many of them go there to honor family members or friends who died during the war.
Among the visitors one recent day was 89-year old Cewin Johnson. He was only 19 when he lost his arm fighting in France.
“We were fighting (in) the village of Oberhofen, which was near, about 20 miles west of Strasbourg and we’d been in that village three times trying to take the town. We’d gotten the Germans all boxed up at the end of the village. And Gary heard the tank coming up the street. He sent the artillery in and hit the tank and that’s when I got hit, too, at the same time.”
Frederick Douglass Williams is now 92. He flew combat planes in in Europe as part of the all-black Tuskegee Airmen group. He says the hardest part of going to war was thinking about the loved ones waiting for his safe return.
“I like what Winston Churchill said, ‘they also served who sit and wait.’ Mothers, sweethearts…Hey, my poor mother, she went crazy. We knew, we expected death all right but not them. ‘Where is my son?’”
Christopher Yung is a research fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the U.S. National Defense University. He wrote a book on the military planning for D-Day.
“It is one of the most important military operations ever conducted, probably the largest amphibious assault ever undertaken. That it took a great deal of military thinking, ingenuity, perseverance. It was the first step in which the Allies were able to get back onto the continent. The Germans had erected a gigantic fortress, Fortress Europa, to prevent the Allies from returning.”
Brigadier General Bruno Caitucoli is the top defense official at the French embassy in Washington. His father fought in the war.
“What my dad really explained to me so many times is the importance of being ready to defend what is not really given, which is freedom, democracy, et cetera.”
General Caitucoli has a picture in his office to help him remember the sacrifices made by so many during World War II.
I’m Anna Matteo.