More than 9,000 soldiers died trying to free France 75 years ago Thursday. Hundreds came to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene to commemorate the day that changed the war.
On June 6, 1944, more than 150 thousand soldiers invaded German occupied Normandy. They stormed beaches. One of them was Louis Graziano.
“Had to lay down on the ground with the dead soldiers then, I had to crawl up underneath the cliff,” described Graziano.
He was a sergeant in the army, he and his men stormed Omaha beach. The 96-year-old said he can still remember everything about that day.
“There was a machine gun up on top of a cliff shooting down at us, so I got flamethrower out and put that all on fire underneath where the machine gun was up there, that got rid of that gun,” said Graziano
“I told my men, all you that don’t have guns, go down there and get you one off the dead soldiers. They didn’t have guns because they lost it in the water when they were trying to get ashore, so we fought our way up all the way to Reims,” he said.
Veterans like Graziano, joined family and community members to honor those that fought that fateful day. They also heard stories about the 34th president who at the time was the Supreme Commander of Allied forces.
“I’m proud for him, that the people have cared enough to come back, over 60 nearly 70 World War II vets in 2019, here,” said granddaughter of the president, Mary Jean Eisenhower.
The soldiers that served under him say this day means a lot.
“It’s an honor to be here with the different soldiers, and I have talked with a lot of them, talking about the different things,” said Graziano.
“It’s wonderful that they observed it this way, I think this is great,” said WWII veteran Jay Kramer.
Eisenhower said her grandfather would have been happy that the focus at the ceremony was on those who served.
People also enjoyed special events that highlighted different aspects of WWII after the ceremony.