Lexington veterans honored on 75th anniversary of D-Day

Published: Jun. 6, 2019 at 11:42 PM EDT
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Across the country, thousands are remembering the soldiers killed on D-Day and the veterans who returned home from World War II.

Dozens assembled at Central Christian Church in Lexington to salute those who fought and remember the thousands who died in the Allied invasion of Normandy.

"We gather here 75 years, 24,600 days later to remember the courage and the sacrifice of that greatest generation," said Reverend David Shirey from Central Christian Church.

Among the crowd were two surviving veterans of D-Day. Congressman Andy Barr recited a prayer delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a radio address the evening of the assault.

Troops trained hard for the mission, so hard that many died in the process, explained Purple Heart recipient, Maj. Dean Hammond, U.S. Army, Retired.

"The fact that they lost so many people just in training and they didn't go 'Oh, we lost all these people in training. What's going to happen in the war?' It's going to be bad is what it's going to be and they got up anyway and did it. They knew that it had to be done," Hammond said.

Rabbi David Wirtschafter shared a eulogy for World War II heroes penned by Rabbi Roland Gittlesohn, a Marine Corps chaplain during the battle of Iwo Jima.

"These young men gave their lives in the fight against fascism, and the most important thing that we can do to honor them is to reject any doctrine, any philosophy of superiority," Rabbi Wirtschafter said.

Phil Gray recalled how his father, Sgt. Charles Gray, Jr., was injured but miraculously survived the assault on Omaha Beach.

"The bullet that would have killed my father instead snapped his rifle in two," Gray said. "Dad would be upset that we were talking about him and would want us to remember all of those who died. As he said, the guys he served with were the best men he ever knew, and that the only heroes of D-Day are the ones who didn't come home."