Tucson Residents traveling to Normandy, France for D-Day anniver - Tucson News Now

Tucson Residents traveling to Normandy, France for D-Day anniversary

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Final preparations are taking place in Normandy, France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. You could argue it is one of the most important moment's in world history.

D-Day was the historic turning point that brought eventual liberation to Europe and marked the end of World War II.

To observe the special anniversary, more than a dozen Tucson residents are packing up their bags and getting ready for this historic trip back in time.

Members of the Tucson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and their family members will be heading to France to pay their respects to fallen warriors and thank surviving veterans for their sacrifice.

Suzanne Galen, the tour director for the group who attended the 60th anniversary of D-Day said the mood was festive and somber at the same time.

Galen said most Americans did not realize that France had many cemeteries where American veterans were buried.  More than 9,000 U.S. World War II veterans were laid to rest in those cemeteries.

For one Tucson woman, this trip to Normandy was very personal. Jean Yokley called it the trip of a lifetime.

"It's a chance to be in the same places he was, I get to experience what it was like.  I can actually be on the same ground he was at," said Yokley.

Yokley showed us the album she had found of her World War II veteran father, PFC Robert Liddle.  He had served in the 25th field artillery unit and traveled through Normandy, Belgium and Germany.

"It's very emotional and very rewarding to think he was a part of all that," said Yokley.

Others in the group called themselves history buffs, while some were linked to historical heroes like the Viking Warrior William the Conqueror.  Carol Schultz is his 28th great granddaughter.

Schultz said the trip was important because the key to the future lies in the past. All the members of the DAR group agreed that schools should put more focus in teaching kids about the history of both World War I and World War II.  They were disappointed the curriculum did not include much about the global and historical significance of those wars.

It was not just about the liberation of Europe, and the French.

"If D-Day hadn't been successful they would have been speaking German," said Schultz.

"We could be living under fascist rule or under imperialist rule," added Galen.

The 70th anniversary was expected to attract millions of visitors into France.  One of the reasons was the age of the veterans who fought in that war.  Most World War II veterans are in their 90s.  Organizers said this could be the last big anniversary that has surviving veterans taking part in the events.

Members of DAR said they hoped to personally thank all the veterans they met in France.

"Every soldier out there that died gave their today so that I could have my tomorrow," said Schultz.

The group plans to travel to several cities and beaches along the French Coast of Normandy.  Galen said many of the villages were monuments dedicated to the historical events that took place there during the war.

"When you go you'll see German bunkers still intact. Guns still in place. Big crates from bombs still there," said Galen.

The group planned to tour museums and march in the parade in Ste. Mere Eglise on June 6th.  They also planned to give a speech and present a special gift to the town of Ste. Mere Eglise.  It was the first town liberated by the American paratroopers.

Galen said the gift was a replica of a Revolutionary War-era Tricorn hat to symbolize how far back our alliance goes with France. 

"France came to our aid as we fought for our Country's Independence, and then we came to their aid to help them regain their independence," said Galen.

The DAR group will leave Tucson this weekend and be in France for a little over a week.

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