“So as Obama spoke about the price of defending freedom with a massive military action like the Allied effort in World War II, the rhetoric must have seemed, to many of those old men listening, more than a little hollow. The only really enthusiastic ovation at Colleville-sur-mer was when Obama turned to the veterans on the stage and said, “Gentlemen, we are truly humbled by your presence here today.” After all, they had seen so much, survived so much, and understood so well the real and terrible experience of combat. They may have been afraid, and in most cases no doubt were, but their fears did not paralyze them.
When the ceremony was over, I made my way through the arrays of marble crosses to the stage and to the man in the blue hat who had taken Obama’s hand. His name, it turns out, is Irving Smolens, and he was only 19 when he took part in the Normandy landing. Afterward he spent much of his life as a buyer of women’s and children’s clothing in Massachusetts, leading a quiet, peaceful life with his family. “What did you say to Obama?” I asked him. “I thanked him for keeping us out of war,” said Smolens. ”
-Christopher Dickey – The Daily Beast “What the D-Day Veteran Told Obama” 6.6.14
-Photo credit – Dr. Wee Teck Young, Afghanistan