Tanya Hayes clutched a dry-cleaning bag holding an old green U.S. Army uniform as she scanned the crowd at the Salute to the Greatest Generation-70th Anniversary of D-Day on June 6 at Littleton's World War II Memorial. A smaller bag pinned to the jacket held an assortment of Army medals.
“It’s my friend’s father’s Army jacket. He served in World War II. I’m just trying to find someone who can help me place all the medals on it the right way,” Hayes said. “I thought it was the least I could do for a vet, especially from this generation.”
Hayes didn't know her friend’s father, Herschel Nichols, very well but knew she wanted to do what she could to show her appreciation for his service.
“The freedom I enjoy today is due to these men I don’t know,” Hayes said.
It was the reason why many in the crowd at the memorial had come to pay tribute to those who fought and died that day 70 years ago.
On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 American, English and Canadian troops landed along the beaches of Normandy, France, and tried to push out the heavily fortified Nazi Germany army. More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or injured during the first days of the invasion, many still lying in rest along the beaches they helped free.
Bill Kamsler, who was part of the Normandy invasion, served in an armored division. Before the troops landed, Kamsler said they replaced the bright division insignia on their uniforms with more neutral colors.
“We didn't want to give them a target to shoot at,” Kamsler said. “Being here today, you really feel it in your heart for those who we left behind. They should have been here. I miss seeing them.”
The event at the Littleton World War II Memorial was put on by Pat Hannon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4666 and George Evans American Legion Post 103.
“We’re lucky to be here. We have the gift of freedom from those fighting men and women,” said Lou Zamora, who came to honor the long line of servicemen in his family.
A Vietnam War veteran, Zamora wore pictures of his father and his three uncles around his neck. One of his uncles, Paul, was killed at Pearl Harbor while his father, Reyes, and his uncle, Joseph, served during the World War II. His other uncle, Louis, was killed during the Korean War.
“It’s great to share that legacy with them, but it has to be done. People have to stand up to evil,” Zamora said. “There were a lot of good men who sacrificed everything to fight evil.”
Contact Ramsey Scott at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Checkwww.columbinecourier.com for updates.