Nearly 75 years after the invasion on D-Day during World War II, veterans are sharing their stories in Abilene. On Thursday, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, around 70 World War II veterans will be at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum for a remembrance ceremony.
Several men who served in the war traveled to Abilene a day early to talk about what they remember in a panel discussion.
Frank Benteman is one of the veterans who participated in the panel discussion. He grew up in Frankfort but now lives in Topeka.
During the war, he received a purple heart while fighting in Germany.
“I captured with my buddy PFC General Funderberg, [we] captured 6 german soldiers,” Benteman said.
He said not long after those captures, he and his buddy came under shelling and a white phosphorous attack.
“An artillery shell hit the house, that we’d just been standing in,” he said. “And part of the house clobbered me on my left knee; of course my knee was sticking out of the fox hole. And better my knee than my head.”
Kansas State University professor Dr. Chuck Sanders moderated the panel discussion with Benteman and four other veterans. He said nothing compares to hearing their stories first-hand.
“To sit in a room with five men like we sat in a room with today, and to hear their stories again; authenticity, veracity, sincerity — that’s the only way you get that,” Dr. Sanders said. “And bless the Eisenhower Center for working so hard to continually bring us face to face with our history.”
The remembrance ceremony is Thursday morning at 9:30. Kansas State University President General Richard Myers and President Eisenhower’s granddaughter will speak during the event.
At 6:30 p.m. there will be a free Hope & Liberty Concert. It’s presented by Kansas State University School of Music, Theatre and Dance and the 41st Summer Choral Institute led by Bryan Pinkall.
In honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Eisenhower foundation has launched a new initiative called Ike’s Soldiers. Ike’s Soldiers is a database of veterans’ stories. To learn how you can submit a World War II veteran’s story, click here.