Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

June 5, 2014

D-Day

We owe much to those who fought there

— Our late colleague, Thomas J. “Bucky” Walbert, was a warm-hearted man, filled with good humor, and a font of knowledge about music and the “sweet science” of boxing.

A staunch supporter of The Has-Beens Inc., which was devoted to the promotion of amateur boxing in this area, he wrote a regular column called “The Ringsider” for The Cumberland Evening and Sunday Times.

We knew he was a veteran, but he mostly talked about his career as an Army disc jockey. A photo of him plying his trade shows him to be a master sergeant ... a rank he couldn’t have attained merely by spinning records.

It was only after his death that we learned his military career was far more extensive, and that he was among the heroes of the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, and the time that followed. If you haven’t done so already, we would invite you to read the story about him that appears on Page 1A of today’s edition.

Our world is what it is now, thanks in large part to Bucky and the other Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen who 70 years ago today began the liberation of Europe from the tyranny of Nazi Germany.

We owe our freedom to many men and women who served in the European and Asian theaters of combat, and on the home front.

June 6, 1944, is one of the dates that no American should ever forget. Millions of people around the world remember it. More than 407,000 American service members died during World War II, and about 93,000 of them are at rest overseas in cemeteries that are located on what is considered to be American soil — more than 9,000 of them at the Normandy American Cemetery.

Many of their graves have been adopted by individuals and families who are citizens of the countries where they rest. They tend to the graves and decorate them with flowers on the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the service member’s birthday.

Why do they do this? Simply because they remember that the fallen one is largely responsible for their freedom, and they are grateful.

All of them, from those buried in mass graves with other Revolutionary War soldiers, to those who have perished most recently during the Gulf Wars, are responsible for our freedom.

We should never forget any of them. When you meet American veterans, please take the time to thank them for your freedom.

It might surprise you to know just how much they appreciate it.

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