"Humility must be the measure of a man whose success was bought with the blood of his subordinates, and paid for with the lives of his friends." -- General Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Friends of the National World War II Memorial and the National Park Service (NPS) paid tribute to the Greatest Generation during a special event at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. on May 8, 2014 commemorating the 69th anniversary of the Allied Forces Victory in the Atlantic and the end of WWII in Europe.
Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman Michael McCaul (TX) was honored to speak on behalf of our veterans. Congressman McCaul’s father served as a B-17 Bombardier Navigator in the Army Air Corps during World War II and some of his senior advisors are United States veterans. As he spoke you could feel the deep respect and emotion he has for our military.
Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during WWII, read General Eisenhower’s May 8, 1945 “Victory of Order of the Day.” Some of the words inspired the world;
The crusade on which we embarked in the early summer of 1944 has reached its glorious conclusion. It is my especial privilege, in the name of all nations represented in this theatre of war, to commend each of you for the valiant performance of duty.
Though these words are feeble, they come from the bottom of a heart overflowing with pride in your loyal service and admiration for you as warriors. Your accomplishments at sea, in the air, on the ground and in the field of supply have astonished the world……
WWII veterans visiting the memorial included Navajo Code Talker David Patterson who was escorted by Elaine Hackett, Congressional Liaison, (NPS) and his son Pat Patterson - all laid wreaths at the Freedom Wall, along with Congressman McCaul, Ms. Eisenhower and honored guests.
Jim Fisher, Director of Events at Friends of the WWII Memorial stated, “It was a wonderful day at the World War II Memorial. Any day that we can thank our heroes of World War II is a great day. It is so very important that we honor them now before they are gone. This generation of Americans literally saved the world! For this we are ever grateful.”
A large amount of planning goes into each event. “In planning for these events, we usually start a year out from the event date. There is much coordination with the different agencies in the National Capital Region to accomplish a successful event. There are stories to review, securing speakers, and arranging the logistical support that ensures a smooth ceremony with no distractions. We are chartered with the National Park Service to conduct five events per year”, Fisher said.
This May, hundreds of WWII Vets will once again gather at the Memorial to celebrate its 10th anniversary -- in what will most likely be, the last large gathering of our WWII veterans at their Memorial. The National World War II Memorial 10th Anniversary Commemoration, like the Memorial itself, will honor those who served and pay tribute to the spirit of unity and shared purpose, which defined the character of our country during the war years.
If you are interested in other events or attending the 10th anniversary log on to the website http://www.wwiimemorialfriends.org/10th-anniversary-commemoration to find information about the memorial, the organization and upcoming events.
In speaking with many of the WWII veterans, I realized that time is the adversary of remembrance. Someday soon, these great patriots will no longer be with us to share their stories and we will no longer be able to listen to their words, shake their hands, or say thank you to their faces. Their history and war stories will be relegated to books, magazines, microfiche or to being told by family members who listened closely every time a veteran opened up to talk about their service in the military. We must commemorate these events for our veterans as often as possible, whilst never forgetting their sacrifices. It is our obligation and responsibility to commemorate and honor the gift our veterans have given us and our Allies – FREEDOM.- Donna Lyons News Journalist and Author
About The Friends of the National World War II Memorial, Inc. (www.wwiimemorialfriends.org): Founded in 2007, the Friends of the National World War II Memorial is a 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to honoring and preserving the national memory of World War II. The nonprofit organization was established by a group of private citizens involved in the memorial from its inception to its dedication. The National World War II Memorial honors those who served and pays tribute to the spirit of unity and shared purpose, which defined the character of our country during the war years. To support the Friends mission of preserving the legacy of the Memorial, Friends has initiated a number of commemorative and educational programs. Working in a cooperative partnership with the National Park Service, Friends has the lead responsibility in planning and staging major national commemorative events and sponsors free public performances of military bands at the Memorial. Additionally, Friends sponsors an annual public lecture series featuring prominent historians; provides teachers with curriculum materials; and collects and archives video interviews of World War II veterans and other members of the Greatest Generation.
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