There is a great article on the Daily Beast about the D-Day Commemoration. It is bookend by an interchange between the President and a D-Day veteran. No one overheard what the veteran said to the President, but Christopher Dickey tracked him down after the ceremony.
His name, it turns out, is Irving Smolens, and he was only 19 when he took part in the Normandy landing. Afterward he spent much of his life as a buyer of women’s and children’s clothing in Massachusetts, leading a quiet, peaceful life with his family.I thanked him for keeping us out of war!
“What did you say to Obama?” I asked him.
“I thanked him for keeping us out of war,” said Smolens.
That is the goal of most old soldiers who learned the true lesson of their experience.
It is echoed in President Eisenhower's statement on the 10th Anniversary. There was no bravado, no chest thumping. Just a remembrance of loss and a yearning for peace.
It concludes with this,
The courage, devotion and faith which brought us through the perils of war will inevitably bring us success in our unremitting search for peace. security and freedom.Here is the whole statement.
THIS DAY is the tenth anniversary of the landing of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Normandy. That combined land-sea-air operation was made possible by the joint labors of cooperating nations. It depended for its success upon the skill, determination and self-sacrifice of men from several lands. It set in motion a chain of events which affected the history of the entire world.
Despite the losses and suffering involved in that human effort, and in the epic conflict of which it was a part, we today find in those experiences reasons for hope and inspiration. They remind us particularly of the accomplishments attainable through close cooperation and friendship among free peoples striving toward a common goal. Some of my most cherished memories of that campaign are those of friendly cooperation with such distinguished military leaders of foreign nations as Field Marshal Montgomery, Admiral Ramsay, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Tedder, Marshal de Lattre de Tassigny, Marshal Juin and Marshal; Leclerc. I recall my pleasant association with the outstanding Soviet soldier, Marshal Zhukov, and the victorious meeting at the Elbe of the Armies of the West and of the East.
These lessons of unity and cooperation have by no means been lost in the trying period of reconstruction since the fighting stopped. Rather, we see peoples, once bitter enemies, burying their antagonisms and joining together to meet the problems of the postwar world. If all those nations which were members of the Grand Alliance have not maintained in time of peace the spirit of that wartime union, if some of the peoples who were our comrades-in-arms have been kept apart from us, that is cause for profound regret, but not for despair. The courage, devotion and faith which brought us through the perils of war will inevitably bring us success in our unremitting search for peace. security and freedom.