BUCKHANNON – Thursday, June 6, 2019, marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day of World War II. D-Day fell on June 6, 1944 and was the day Allied Troops launched the largest seaborne invasion in history.
Allied Troops invaded France’s Omaha Beach during the Normandy landings and began the West Allied effort to liberate France and western Europe from Nazi Germany. The Normandy landings were the start of the eventual freeing of German-occupied France from Nazi control and set the stage for the Allies’ victory on the Western Front.
Taps for Veterans member Mike Wilson wanted to honor the occasion publicly. So, he went to the Upshur County Courthouse at 7 p.m. and sounded “Taps.” Wilson then sounded “Taps” at Jawbone Park’s Walk of Valor in front of the banners hung to commemorate the lives and sacrifices of many local veterans.
“It’s an absolute honor to do this,” Wilson said. “I feel like I have to do it. My father was a U.S. Marine and was wounded Iwo Jima, never would talk about it. A couple years before he passed in 2005, my son got him to open up a little bit about what went on, and how he was wounded and all that, but I do this to honor my dad. I never served in the military, but this is my service to the country.”
The organization of which Wilson is a member, Taps for Veterans, aims to provide a live version of the song, “Taps,” which is typically sounded at military funerals and to indicate the day is done.
“With over 1,500 veterans passing away each day and not enough military buglers to attend every funeral, most veterans receive an audio recording of Taps,” the Taps for Veterans website says. “Taps for Veterans believes that a veterans’ final honors are worthy of a live rendition of our National Song of Remembrance.”
Wilson said “Taps” is what is played to honor veterans, and it’s typically played at military funerals.
“‘Taps’ is the final honor for our veterans,” Wilson said. “Traditionally, it has been the bugle call played at lights out on all the army bases, but in this way, it’s done at military funerals. I’ve done many, many of them. I’ve played ‘Taps’ at funerals since I was 15, so I’ve been doing it 60 years now. It’s the final honor for those veterans who gave their lives for us and who came back, but passed away later.”
He said Taps for Veterans was started by Jari Villanueva, who served in the Second World War.
To learn more about the organization, visit www.tapsforveterans.org.
At exactly 7 p.m. the same day, Buckhannon mayor David McCauley delivered an address at council, commemorating D-Day. McCauley’s full comments can be read below:
“Seventy-five years ago today, 160,000 of our bravest and most courageous young troops comprising the largest portion of the Allied Forces stormed the five beaches at Normandy on the coast of France to further the liberation of Europe from the Axis powers. The five beaches were dubbed by General Omar Bradley as Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. This was the largest amphibious, military action in world history.
D-Day, aka Operation Overlord, was the pivotal event of World War II, and within 11 months Germany surrendered and 14 months later, the Japanese were defeated, and the fascist and imperialistic attempts to take over our planet were quashed. The phrase ‘D-Day’ stands for ‘departed date’ in military lingo. This invasion involved 7,000 nautical vessels and 10,000 aircraft.
The Normandy campaign carried on through August and resulted in 200,000 Allied Forces’ casualties. The veterans of our armed forces of that time have come to be known as the Greatest Generation, and this evening, we pause to remember their courage that changed the history of our world. May we today be forever vigilant and mindful of the threats posed to us around the world, and may our current and future generations come to know and appreciate what happened on June 6, 1944.
It is our job to teach, to remind and to instill knowledge of such things as war, the Holocaust and oppression. It is our duty as good stewards of our democratic republic and for people comprising democracies throughout our world, to educate all citizens but particularly our youth that freedom is never free, and that liberty is a fragile gift realized from the bloodshed of others who often times paid the supreme sacrifice while fighting for us and our values.
This evening, we honor and remember the gallant service of all of those who have fought, and the many of whom died on June 6, 1944 and thereafter to preserve our great, American way of life. Tonight we honor our heroes & all veterans. Let us never forget their rich legacies.”