On Thursday, hundreds of people gathered underneath the Jubilee Arbor at Historic Carson House to remember the 75th anniversary of D-Day and pay tribute to World War II veterans, both living and deceased.

The commemoration was held on Thursday, June 6. D-Day, June 6, 1944, was the first day of the Allied invasion of Normandy in France during World War II.

On that date, approximately 160,000 Allied troops from the United States, Great Britain and Canada embarked on the greatest military invasion in world history. The invasion was preceded by massive bombing of the heavily fortified coast. On the morning of June 6, 1944, Allied soldiers undertook the largest amphibious landing ever on the beaches of Normandy and fought a massive bloody battle against the Germans. The fighting on June 6, 1944 was only the first day in the great struggle to liberate Europe from the tyranny of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. Nazi Germany would finally surrender to the Allies in May 1945.

“Seventy-five years later, the world still lives in the shadow of D-Day,” said Alan Mainer, commander of the local American Legion. “The events of that day molded history for generations to come.”

Officials with Historic Carson House have planned this commemoration for some time. Both Chuck Abernathy, chairman of the Carson House board, and David Walker, chairman of the McDowell County Board of Commissioners, welcomed all those present, especially the more than 10 World War II veterans and their families.

The McDowell High NJROTC presented the colors. The McDowell High chorus, led by Patrick Young, sang the National Anthem and “Don’t Sit Underneath the Apple Tree,” a popular song from the 1940s.

Doug Johnson, chaplain with American Legion Post 56, gave the invocation.

Maggie Effler sang the songs for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard as their respective flags were presented.

Mainer spoke about the history behind June 6, 1944.

“By the end of the day, the Allies had suffered major casualties and had failed to achieve many objectives, including seizing Caen,” he said. “By the end of June 6, the Allies had suffered an estimated 10,000 casualties, including more than 4,400 dead. That figure was roughly the same number of dead the U.S. military would suffer later during more than eight years of war in Iraq. But the Germans had failed to push them off the beaches. Nearly a year of bloody fighting lay ahead but the Allied victory in Europe was assured.”

Together, Mainer and Mayor Steve Little presented certificates to the families of deceased World War II veterans from McDowell. They also gave certificates to the living World War II veterans who were present at Thursday’s commemoration. These aged warriors are in their mid- to late 90s now.

Martha Jordan, executive director of Carson House, invited all those who attended to see the World War II exhibit now on display inside the historical museum. The event concluded with the playing of “Taps” by the American Legion. Afterwards, a reception was also hosted by the Greenlee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Officials with Historic Carson House said they can still provide certificates to living World War II veterans or to the families of deceased ones, if they had been accidentally left out of Thursday’s event. You can call Historic Carson House at 828-724-4948 or email historiccarsonhouse@gmail.com.

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