Honoring Heroes: The 80th Anniversary of D-Day and the Last Goodbye to WWII Veterans

Today marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day, a day that changed the course of history and holds a profound significance for us all. This year’s commemoration is especially poignant as it might be the last major event involving our remaining WWII veterans. The young men who were 20 years old when they stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, are now centenarians, and their numbers are dwindling.

In honor of this monumental anniversary, organizers have pulled out all the stops, creating a “last hurrah” feel with concerts, parachute drops, ceremonies, and parades. This year’s D-Day commemoration is set to be the largest in history, a fitting tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought and died on those beaches.

Fewer than 200 WWII veterans have made the journey to France, supported by aides, to partake in this historic event one final time. Their presence adds a deeply personal and emotional dimension to the commemoration. These veterans are witnesses to history. Their stories are a bridge to a past that must not be forgotten.

Let me share a true story that brings this into perspective. One of the veterans attending this year’s commemoration is 98-year-old Charles Shay, a Native American from the Penobscot tribe in Maine. Charles was a combat medic who landed on Omaha Beach with the 1st Infantry Division. Amidst the chaos and carnage of that fateful day, Charles repeatedly risked his life to save his fellow soldiers, dragging them from the surf to safety and administering life-saving medical aid.

Charles’s bravery and selflessness earned him the Silver Star, but he rarely spoke of his experiences like many of his generation. Now, he returns to Normandy to honor his fallen comrades and ensure that the world never forgets the price of freedom. His story, and the stories of countless others, are a testament to the incredible courage and resilience that defined his generation.

For small business owners and entrepreneurs, the heroes of D-Day have a lesson that resonates even today. The determination, teamwork, and leadership they demonstrated under the most extreme circumstances can serve as a beacon of inspiration for us in our pursuits. As we confront our challenges, let’s draw strength from their example and strive to embody the same spirit of resilience and courage.

As we contemplate this significant day, let’s also consider how we can contribute to the preservation of these stories and the values they embody. Whether it’s through supporting veterans’ organizations, educating the next generation, or simply taking the time to listen to and share these stories, we all have a role to play in ensuring that the legacy of D-Day lives on.

Thank you for joining me in honoring the heroes of D-Day. Remember their sacrifices and strive to live up to the ideals they fought for.