A large crowd gathered Thursday morning at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the day that changed history.
On June 6th, 1944, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander during World War II, led the Allied Forces in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. Code-named Operation OVERLORD, this was the greatest invasion in human history that, less than a year later, led to the liberation of Europe from Adolf Hitler’s Nazi tyranny.
Military representatives from the United Kingdom, France, and Canada where among those who gathered for the event alongside present and past U.S. Military, including multiple World War II veterans.
Among those who spoke was Eisenhower’s granddaughter Mary Jean Eisenhower. She told KSAL News the toll of D-Day weighed heavy on her grandfather for the rest of his life.
Louis Graziano was among the soldiers who landed on Normandy’s Omaha Beach that fateful day. He told KSAL News first and foremost he had to quickly exit the landing craft and make it onto the beach alive.
Alice Johannes-Miller was part of the war effort as well. She was working back here at home building airplanes. She told KSAL News the memories of D-Day are still vivid.
Col. Pierre Olivier Marchand represented the French Army at the event Thursday in Abilene. He told KSAL News it was overwhelming to him to be part of a gathering commemorating such an important day in the history for both the United States and his country of France.
The Abilene ceremony included audio of General Eisenhower delivering his Marching Order to the allied troops prior to the invasion.
Audio of Eisenhower’s radio speech and message to Western Europe, which aired the evening after the troops landed and took control of the beaches, also was included in the ceremony.
Prior to the ceremony vintage World War II era aircraft flew over the gathering.
Events ended with Eisenhower Library Deputy Director Tim Rives reading a roll call of Kansans who were killed in action on that day 75-years-ago. There are 41 Kansans who were identified as killed in action, including two sets of of brothers.
Soldiers from nearby Fort Riley’s 1st Infantry Division were instrumental in the D-Day invasion. 316 soldiers from the Kansas army post were killed.
The ceremony on Thursday in Abilene ended with an honor guard from Fort Riley firing a 21 gun salute and performing taps.
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