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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 6, 1944....D day in Normandy, France. 180,000 Allied Forces descended on France to fight  Nazi Germany. Five thousand ships and 13,000 aircraft gave support to the troops as they descended on the beach. 9000 men were killed or wounded that day but 100.000 men began the march across Europe  that would defeat Hitler.(thanks to the US Army website for this information!). My father in law arrived on the shores of Normandy 12 days after the initial invasion.  He spoke of the joy of the French people as they were liberated....the ladies kissed the soldiers, the men cheered them on. Papa G was just a farm boy from Minnesota...he was a third generation American. His family still spoke German in the home and in fact, Papa did not speak English until he started school as a child. Some of his fellow soldiers viewed Papa G  with suspicion as he still spoke German. They wondered if he was a REAL American. But Papa was an American through and through. His ability to speak German did come in handy one day. Papa drove a truck in the war...he was in a convoy that was moving rapidly across France and  was separated from his fellow soldiers. While trying to find his convoy, he came upon two SS soldiers and captured them. As Papa so modestly put it, he did not have to do much to capture them as they were tired and starving. I guess those Nazi soldiers were surprised to hear a Yank speak German to them.  Papa did find his convoy and on he went to the Battle of the Bulge fighting with his fellow troops on the  way to victory. Papa took many pictures of a defeated Germany. Some of his photographs are disturbing...particulary  pictures of one of Hitler's Death Camps.  When I read that approx 100,000 American soldiers lost their lives in the Battle of the Bulge, it reminds me to be  thankful that my father in law was one of the fortunate ones who made it home to his girlfriend, Saramina. She would become his wife and my husband and his siblings are here today because of that great blessing. Papa was a patriot for the rest of his life. You would always find the flag waving from his front porch. He knew what a great price had been paid for the freedom we love in the USA. And I agree with Tom Brokaw, the young men and women of WWII were the greatest generation!!

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