The 75th anniversary of D-Day was marked Thursday by the presentation of France’s highest honor to two World War II veterans at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall and a speech by a participant in the invasion at the Museum of Tolerance.
Walter Bodlander, 98, a Jew who fled Germany in the 1930s and was among the first Americans to land on Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion, described for the crowd at the Museum of Tolerance the horrors his family endured in Germany.
“Many of our family were arrested and put into concentration camps,” he said. “Many of them, a number of them, were killed. One of my cousins who was older than I was … was killed by the Gestapo, the secret police. So my parents really tried everything to get out of Germany.”
The museum’s remembrance program also included a screening of the documentary “Liberation” about the Allied campaign to liberate Europe and Hitler’s genocidal campaign against the Jews.
A remembrance of the allied invasion in Normandy on June 6, 1944, which marked the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe, was held Thursday afternoon at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. It included a dedication ceremony, a historical exhibit representing all military branches, period singers, re-enactors and a screening of the 1962 film “The Longest Day.”
French Consul General Christophe Lemoine named two former American officers chevaliers (knights) in France’s Legion of Honor — retired U.S. Army Reserves Lt. Col. Sam Sachs and former Army Capt. Joseph Kirshenbaum.
Sachs, 104, is a Lakewood resident who was a company commander in the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, which landed on D-Day. His decorations include the Bronze Star.
“I remember it as though it happened yesterday,” Sachs told ABC7 about the invasion. “The whole thing is in my mind and will never be erased.”
Kirshenbaum, 99, is a Palm Springs resident who was an ordnance officer with the 313th Ordnance Battalion and the HQ 82nd Ordnance Group.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn also commemorated the invasion’s anniversary by taking part in a ceremony to light the torch at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“They were the greatest generation and they did not let us down,” Hahn said.
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