Posted tagged ‘World War II’

D-Day – Seventy-Five Years Ago

June 6, 2019

“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.” — General Dwight D Eisenhower

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Seventy-five years ago, today, the Allied Forces of America, Britain, and Canada stormed five beaches in Normandy, France by air and by sea. American troops landed on the beaches with code names of Utah and Omaha. It was the “largest seaborne invasion in military history.” These men faced a fierce obstacle – the Nazi forces who occupied France. Boys became men that day as they summoned the extraordinary courage to fight the enemy in order to free others from Hitler’s tyranny. The results were many casualties for the Allied Forces, but it also marked the turning point of World War II.

“They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt

For more information about D-Day, you might want to visit the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy. 

Further reading for kids:

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What Was D-Day? written by Patricia Brennan Demuth and illustrated by David Grayson Kenyon, Penguin Workshop, 2015.

 

 

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D-Day Landings: The Story of the Allied Invasion written by Richard Platt, DK Children, 2004.

 

 

 

 

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Remember D-Day:  The Plan, the Invasion, Survivor Stories written by Ronald J. Drez, National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015.

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In Memory of One Special Veteran and a Tribute to Others

November 10, 2016

My dad was a member of what some people refer to as the Greatest Generation – those men and women who fought in World War II. He was a true patriot and a gentleman. He passed away five years ago, and I miss his quirky humor and wisdom every single day.

Tomorrow, on 11-11-16, we celebrate Veterans Day. I have posted this piece before, but I am posting it again with added information to honor my dad and all the men and women who have served in the military and those who continue to do so. We also remember those who bravely fought and sacrificed their lives to keep our country safe.

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My dad served in the Army Air Corps as First Lieutenant, navigating B-29 bombers and was a member of the 505thBombardment Group based on Tinian Island. He was there during the time Tinian Island served as the base for the Enola Gay, the B-29 aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

When we were growing up, he rarely talked about his service. I had the feeling he wanted to distance himself from those years. After my mother died, he began telling the family about his time served in the Army Air Corps. He especially wanted the grandkids to know the history of that period. Here are some of his experiences and memories.

My dad flew bombing missions and searched for survivors after B-29 bombers were shot down. He mined Tokyo Bay and Shimonoseki Strait. After the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, this is what my dad remembers hearing from a crew member of the Enola Gay:  “We dropped something. There was a big cloud. We got out of there!”

My dad’s last mission of the war was to blow up railroad yards. The first people to go home from the Islands were the mechanics. Those who were left behind had to maintain their own planes. My dad’s plane had to land in Hawaii to refuel. Good thing because it ran out of fuel on the runway!

After my dad passed away, we cleared out his house. We found a treasure trove of items from his military days inside his army trunk. Like my mother, he kept EVERYTHING! Those remaining members of the 484th Squadron might recognize some of the pictures I’ve included below.

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Navigation School Graduation Booklet

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Bracelet and Physical Record Card

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Love Letters Written to my Mother

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484th Squadron

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Radar Plotting Chart

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Realities of War

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War is nasty. We are fortunate to have men and women who are willing to protect our country from those who would destroy the freedom we enjoy. Remember to honor and thank all of our veterans today and every day!

If you know of anyone who served in World War II and is still alive, talk to them and write down their stories to preserve for future generations. The Veterans History Project is an excellent way to learn more about our veterans.

Here’s a great picture book to help young readers learn about America’s Armed Forces:  H is for Honor:  A Military Family Alphabet written by Devin Scillian and illustrated by Victor Juhasz (Sleeping Bear Press, 2011)

THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE – Another Winner!

January 21, 2016

If you haven’t read The War That Saved My Life, I highly recommend it. Written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, the book is set in London during World War II and the German invasion. It’s a 2016 Newbery Honor Book, winner of the middle-school age Schneider Family Book Award, and Odyssey Award — well-deserved awards.


Ten-year-old Ada Smith is the heroine of this story. She has a club foot that is an embarrassment to her “mam” – a horrid person. Because of her disfigured foot, Ada is not allowed to leave their flat. She endures physical and mental abuse at the hands of her mother. Even though Ada’s life is one of misery, she makes sure to give her younger brother, Jamie, the best care she can. When the war threatens the well-being of those living in London, local children are evacuated to a safer place in the country. Ada’s mother sends Jamie away, and Ada runs away to join him. When Ada and Jamie arrive at their destination, no one chooses to take them in. They end up in the home of Susan Smith, who is unmarried and has issues of her own. Ada puts up a wall of distrust as Susan Smith desperately tries to help Ada see that she is a worthy person – even with her club foot. During their stay, Susan, Ada, and Jamie slowly begin to become a family unit. When “Mam” suddenly appears and demands to take the children back to London, Susan knows she has no right to keep them. Reluctantly, Susan lets them go. Back in London, Ada is once again subjected to the cruelty of her mother. When she learns her mother never wanted children, Ada knows what she must do. In a dramatic ending of air raid sirens and bombs, Ada is determined to make it back to Susan Smith and the new life she offers them. This is a story of courage, understanding, healing, and love. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley weaves a fascinating and heartwarming tale in this must-read book!

The Greatest Generation – Letters of Love

June 11, 2015

A few days ago, I read an e-mail from the son of a World War II veteran whose father had just passed away. There were many things he said in praise of his father, but there was one sentence that struck me the most. “We are slowly losing the Greatest Generation.”

My dad was part of that generation – the generation that grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. My dad didn’t speak much about what it was like during those times, and he was especially tight-lipped about his service in the Air Corps. If you wanted information, you had to pry it out of him. It wasn’t until my mother passed away that he felt the urge to tell us about his time during the war. He was a First Lieutenant and part of the 20th Air Corps, 505th Bombardment Group based on Tinian Island. My dad was a navigator on B-29 bombers. He was part of the crew that mined Tokyo Bay and Shimonoseki Straits, and he searched for survivors after B-29 bombers were shot down.

Before my dad left for service, he and my mom became engaged. They promised to write each other every day. And they did. Hundreds and hundreds of letters passed between my mom and dad during those years he was gone.

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After they got married, the letters were stored away. When I was younger, a friend and I found them in the attic. We secretly read some of them and giggled at the expressions of love. At that time, it was hard to believe my mom and dad could be so silly in love. Those letters are now in my possession – all of them. You don’t get letters like these anymore. They’re filled with history – not the history of the war, but the history of what it was like to be alive then. The letters are about love, loneliness, and longing. They’re about meeting new people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. They’re about broadening horizons and learning about the world around you and how to survive.

Those letters are what this post is about. I’m sure my dad left them in my care because he wanted his children to know what he was never able to tell us face-to-face. He wanted us to get to know them (mom and dad) through the words of love they wrote to one another.

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It’s time for me to tackle those letters and read the words written by my mom and dad so long ago. Who knows what secrets I might learn from the Greatest Generation.

In Memory of One Special Veteran and a Tribute to Others

November 11, 2011

On November 11th, we celebrate Veterans Day. This is a time to honor all those men and women who have served in the military and those who continue to do so. We also remember those who fought and sacrificed their lives to keep our country safe.

My dad was a World War II veteran. He served in the Army Air Corps as First Lieutenant, navigating B-29 bombers and was a member of the 505th Bombardment Group based on Tinian Island. My dad was there during the time Tinian Island served as the base for the Enola Gay, the B-29 aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

When we were growing up, he rarely talked about his service. I had the feeling he wanted to distance himself from those years. After my mother died, he began telling the family about the time he served in the Army Air Corps. He especially wanted the grandkids to know the history of that period. Here are some of his experiences and memories.

My dad flew bombing missions and searched for survivors after B-29 bombers were shot down. He mined Tokyo Bay and Shimonoseki Strait. As for the atomic bomb, this is what my dad remembers hearing from a crew member of the Enola Gay:  “We dropped something. There was a big cloud. We got out of there!”

My dad’s last mission of the war was to blow up railroad yards. The first people to go home from the Islands were the mechanics. Those who were left behind had to maintain their own planes. On his way home, my dad’s plane landed in Hawaii to refuel. Good thing because it ran out of fuel on the runway!

After my dad passed away, we cleared out his house. We found a treasure trove of items from his military days inside his army trunk. Like my mother, he kept EVERYTHING! Those remaining members of the 484th Squadron might recognize some of the pictures I’ve included below.

Navigation School Graduation Booklet

Bracelet and Physical Record Card

Love Letters Written to my Mother

484th Squadron

Radar Plotting Chart

Realities of War

War is nasty. We are fortunate to have men and women who are willing to protect our country from those who would destroy the freedom we enjoy. Remember to honor and thank all of our veterans today and every day!

Here’s a great picture book to help young readers learn about America’s Armed Forces:  H is for Honor:  A Military Family Alphabet written by Devin Scillian and illustrated by Victor Juhasz (Sleeping Bear Press, 2011)


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