Memories of ‘hell’: Vets mark D-Day anniversary at World War II Memorial

Veterans and onlookers gathered at the World War II Memorial to mark D-Day's 75th anniversary Thursday. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Wreaths were laid at the World War II Memorial to mark D-Day’s 75th anniversary Thursday. (WTOP/John Aaron) (WTOP/John Aaron)
Veterans and onlookers gathered at the World War II Memorial to mark D-Day's 75th anniversary Thursday. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Veterans and onlookers gathered at the World War II Memorial for Thursday’s ceremony. (WTOP/John Aaron) (WTOP/John Aaron)
A military band accompanied the proceedings at the World War II Memorial Thursday to mark D-Day's 75th anniversary. (WTOP/John Aaron)
A military band accompanied the proceedings Thursday at the World War II Memorial. (WTOP/John Aaron) (WTOP/John Aaron)
Crowds gathered Thursday at the World War II Memorial to mark D-Day's 75th anniversary. (WTOP/John Aaron)
A crowd gathered Thursday at the World War II Memorial to mark D-Day’s 75th anniversary. (WTOP/John Aaron) (WTOP/John Aaron)
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Veterans and onlookers gathered at the World War II Memorial to mark D-Day's 75th anniversary Thursday. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Veterans and onlookers gathered at the World War II Memorial to mark D-Day's 75th anniversary Thursday. (WTOP/John Aaron)
A military band accompanied the proceedings at the World War II Memorial Thursday to mark D-Day's 75th anniversary. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Crowds gathered Thursday at the World War II Memorial to mark D-Day's 75th anniversary. (WTOP/John Aaron)

Veterans and onlookers marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall.

Events commemorating the anniversary included the presentation of wreaths. Before that, a group of World War II veterans, who were seated facing the crowd, were introduced one by one.

Among those recognized was James Keele of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who helped bring troops into Normandy on D-Day as a gunner on a Higgins boat.

“If you ever lived in hell, that was it,” he said, describing how so many were killed before even reaching the beach at Normandy, France.

Of the commemoration, he said, “It’s something else to see all these people here.”

That sentiment was echoed by another veteran, Eli Linden of Lansdowne, Virginia. He arrived in Normandy about three weeks after D-Day and was later taken prisoner during the war.

It was “a very touching thing to see all these people,” he said.

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