Posted by Sue on:
I wandered onto Cabrillo Boulevard opposite the ocean hoping to get a glimpse of the D-Day festivities at the Veterans Memorial Building.
Parked in front were a World War II-vintage jeep, truck and tank. I photographed them all including some awestruck onlookers who questioned the 2 military men posted on the tank.
I noticed a local gentleman, Mr. Richard L. Long, proudly donning his WWII veteran baseball cap and while I asked him about his experiences (in the Pacific), we were interrupted with an announcement that the program and luncheon were about to begin.
Mr. Long asked me if I was attending and when I explained that I didn't have reservations, he took my arm as we ascended the stairs and said, " Well, you're going now!"
Representatives of consulates for Great Britain, Canada and France spoke. Mr. John Blankenship, Retired U.S. Major Robert Forties, David Gonzales and the Reverend Dr. Charles C. Griffin recognized D-Day participants and all other World War II military and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, Allied national anthems and an invocation.
I was both touched and honored to be in the company of such heroic men. I felt an urgency that the stories these men shared should be cherished by more than the couple hundred people present. Perhaps the high school faculty and administration could match students with veterans, melding history textbook information with real-life experiences.
The audience watched an emotional D-Day film which incorporated poignant excerpts of "The Longest Day" and "Saving Private Ryan."
Finally, the entire auditorium assembled at the front of the building to observe a fly over by vintage aircraft.
Thank you, Mr. Long, for sweeping me into one of the most beautiful and powerful experiences of my life. I suspect we have many stories ahead of us.