9,387 graves overlook Omaha Beach; the world pays tribute - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

9,387 graves overlook Omaha Beach; the world pays tribute

(WVUE) -

Across the United States, Americans paused for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.

Many people who gave thanks Friday did so because the American invasion of France not only turned the tide during WWII, but it saved their lives and homes.

One of the things that impresses you the most when you return to Normandy and this entire area is the number of people that come here to celebrate. Some return year-after-year to make sure we don't forget the Americans; we don't forget the English, the French and the Canadians who sacrificed so much in these battles in France.

So many crosses. So many young men who died on foreign soil just as they reach adulthood.

For some, life ended within seconds of touching the sand. Others fought their way across the French countryside for days, weeks or months before luck ran out. 9,387 graves lay on a plateau overlooking Omaha Beach,

"Robert O'Connor, he was a lieutenant in a B-17," said Jacky Emory.

Emory, who lives in the town of Lemans in Normandy, has carried 12 roses to the American cemetery every D-Day anniversary for the past 21 years.

"Richard Peterson was in the same plane," said Emory. "Because it's, for me, a means to say thank you to our liberators."

He says thank you to fallen airmen, the crews of B-17 bombers who were shot down near his hometown. Emory has been able to track down their relatives

"I'm in touch with all the families of all these men," said Emory. "I knew the family and I have been in touch with all the family of all the men and let the family know that we don't forget the boys."

Robert O'Connor was the pilot of one B-17. Seven of this crew bailed out. The French townspeople near the crash site believe O'Connor stayed in the plane to steer it away from their homes. O'Connor and his bombardier, Richard Peterson, were killed.

"After the D-Day was the beginning of the liberty for France," explained Emory.

Merrill Baker from New York and David Colinan from Rhode Island walk across the La Fiere Bridge, the site of a bloody D-Day battle. Baker's uncle died fighting in France.

"I don't want the French to forget the sacrifices the Americans made to liberate them," said Baker. "And if coming here and reminding them will do that, then I'll keep coming here and I'll keep honoring my uncle and the men that he fought with."

David Colinan's father, who fought in WWI, volunteered for WWII. He also died in France at the age of 45.

"I was 12-years-old when I lost my father, so I knew him well," said Colinan. "The loss goes beyond their life. It affects families, it affects families for generations. It's a tremendous loss"

Friday, aging comrades, relatives and people who have their own unique connection to a fallen serviceman and others whose lives may have been changed by brave deeds are here to say thanks.

Follow FOX 8:     

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.

  • More Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Rain chances going down next week; Alberto is now in the Gulf

    FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Rain chances going down next week; Alberto is now in the Gulf

    Saturday, May 26 2018 6:00 PM EDT2018-05-26 22:00:06 GMT
    Rain stays to our east on Memorial DayRain stays to our east on Memorial Day
    Rain stays to our east on Memorial DayRain stays to our east on Memorial Day

    After sunset, most of the rain will come to an end with the exception of a storm or two. Those will also wind down closer to 9:00 or 10:00. Most of the clouds will clear away, and the rain chances go back down to zero after midnight. The temperatures will still be warm and muggy tonight. Lows will be in the lower to mid 70s. Sunday will also have a few storms develop in the afternoon, but it will not be as many storms as we saw today. 

    More >>

    After sunset, most of the rain will come to an end with the exception of a storm or two. Those will also wind down closer to 9:00 or 10:00. Most of the clouds will clear away, and the rain chances go back down to zero after midnight. The temperatures will still be warm and muggy tonight. Lows will be in the lower to mid 70s. Sunday will also have a few storms develop in the afternoon, but it will not be as many storms as we saw today. 

    More >>
  • Phone lines down at Vinton Police Department

    Phone lines down at Vinton Police Department

    Saturday, May 26 2018 5:32 PM EDT2018-05-26 21:32:51 GMT
    (Source: KPLC)(Source: KPLC)

    Vinton Police Department's phone lines are down due to a lightning storm, according to Ricky Fox, police chief of VPD. Fox advises any Vinton residents with an emergency to call 911 directly. KPLC will notify the public once the lines are back up. Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.

    More >>

    Vinton Police Department's phone lines are down due to a lightning storm, according to Ricky Fox, police chief of VPD. Fox advises any Vinton residents with an emergency to call 911 directly. KPLC will notify the public once the lines are back up. Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.

    More >>
  • Free child passenger safety seat check in Lake Charles

    Free child passenger safety seat check in Lake Charles

    Saturday, May 26 2018 5:29 PM EDT2018-05-26 21:29:54 GMT
    (Source: Pablo)(Source: Pablo)

    This Saturday, the Louisiana Passenger Safety Task Force is hosting a free child passenger safety seat check event in Lake Charles, according to Sgt. James Anderson of Louisiana State Police.  Anyone who transports a young child in a vehicle is encouraged to take advantage of this service. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of deaths in children, many of which can be prevented with proper seat checks, says Anderson.  Anderson says nationally certified child passen...

    More >>

    This Saturday, the Louisiana Passenger Safety Task Force is hosting a free child passenger safety seat check event in Lake Charles, according to Sgt. James Anderson of Louisiana State Police.  Anyone who transports a young child in a vehicle is encouraged to take advantage of this service. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of deaths in children, many of which can be prevented with proper seat checks, says Anderson.  Anderson says nationally certified child passen...

    More >>
Powered by Frankly