Today marks the 65th anniversary of what has been recorded in the pages of history as "The Invasion of Normandy - D-Day, June 6, 1944."
The invasion of Hitler's "Fortress Europe" was the beginning of the end for the Nazi terror that had spread throughout Europe. There are two covers that were on Life Magazine during the World War II years that are forever imbedded in my mind.
One is that of a soldier wounded on D-Day lying in shallow water as the surf washed over him. While watching NBC news Thursday evening, Tom Brokaw interviewed this soldier. He recovered from his D-Day wounds and went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was severely wounded again. For him, his war was over. I was delighted to learn that he has lived a successful life and is now enjoying his great grandchildren.
The other World War II cover on Life Magazine is that of the Marines raising our American flag at the top of Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima. The events on these two covers, in my opinion, would have to be rated in the top 10 as two of America's finest hours.
You have to go back with me to the summer of 1942 to fully understand why I get emotional about June 6 each year. My lifelong friend, Charles "Batman" Batastini, and I were two kids growing up in the Rose Hill Community of Columbus in the summer of 1942. Life was simple and well-defined back then. We were what the grownups called the "little boys."
The "big boys" at that time were mostly the Class of 1942. They went off and fought themselves a war and returned home and became our mentors as we grew into manhood.
On June 6, 1944, there were no "big boys" left on Rose Hill. All had entered a branch of our armed forces. They did not wait to be drafted. I thank God for their service to our country.
Most of the "big boys" in the Class of 1942 have passed away. All of my kin who fought in World War II, two who went ashore at Normandy, have stepped over into glory. I received word Thursday that perhaps the last living "big boy" in the Class of 1942 from Rose Hill who fought in World War II had passed away.
His name is William "Bill" Screws. It is ironic that Bill's funeral service will be held on the 65th anniversary of D-Day in Columbus.
To the "big boys" from all across our nation who fought in World War II and especially those who parachuted behind enemy lines and went ashore on D-Day June 6, 1944, you will not be forgotten for as long as the breath of life is in Batman and me.