Never forget those who sacrificed on D-Day


By Reggie Ponder

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A number of remembrance ceremonies were held Thursday in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The largest was held at the site of the invasion in Normandy, France, where French President Emmanuel Macron hosted U.S. President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and other world leaders.

Some 160,000 men, about half of them Americans, invaded Normandy on June 6, 1944 to dislodge the Germans from France.

Thousands died in the effort.

Among those who survived was Vernon Lingle, an Elizabeth City resident who manned one of the ships that ferried soldiers to Omaha Beach during the invasion. I recently had the privilege of interviewing Lingle about his recollections of D-Day.

The actions of those soldiers, sailors and pilots who took part in the invasion were heroic.

It was a time of heroes, not just on that day but on days before and after.

I think about my father-in-law, a sergeant who led an infantry unit through combat and difficult jungle conditions in the Philippines.

I also think about my grandfather, a chemical engineer who tested napalm and other chemical agents and also commanded troops in combat in both World War II and Korea. He was gravely wounded in Korea but lived another three decades after that, albeit with an irregular heart rhythm.

I think about others I have known and some I have only heard about, who fought in World War II. Some died as heroes in the war, and others lived as heroes both during and after the war.

Growing up there were numerous men in the church and community who had served in World War II and they were among the leaders in the community — teachers, coaches, principals, business owners, doctors and pretty much every other occupation. They held important positions in city and county government, law enforcement and local civic organizations and churches.

Seven veterans of World War II served as U.S. presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

That generation of leaders and soldiers has been called “the greatest generation,” and the more I learn the truer it seems.

Their sacrifices are not forgotten.

Reggie Ponder is a staff writer for The Daily Advance.