DoD-Sanctioned Committee Highlights World War II Events
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 27, 2004 A special Defense Department-sanctioned organization is highlighting key events of U.S. participation in World War II, the head of the committee noted May 25.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Soyster, executive director of the World War II 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, saidd during an American Forces Radio and Television Service interview that his organization would highlight "all of the events of World War II."
The June 6, 1944, allied invasion of Europe known as D-Day "is certainly one of the major events" of World War II, Soyster pointed out. President Bush, he added, is slated to participate in a D-Day commemoration ceremony in Normandy, France.
Other important military events the committee will commemorate, Soyster said, include the Battle of the Bulge in Europe and the retaking of Japanese-held islands in the Pacific Theater.
He said committee commemorations are slated to cover significant World War II campaigns until the surrender of German and Japanese forces in 1945.
The D-Day commemorations in France include a June 5 observance of the U.S. Army 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions' parachute jumps into Normandy, he said, "that opened the invasion." The ceremony will feature a parachute jump, followed by a march up to St. Mare Eglise. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, he said, will be the keynote speaker.
Three other D-Day observations will be held in France on June 6, Soyster noted:
- President Bush will participate in a 9:30 a.m. D-Day commemoration ceremony for fallen U.S. service members at the U.S. National Cemetery near Omaha Beach. That burial ground contains the remains of some 9,000 U.S. service members who died during D-Day operations.
- A 1 p.m. ceremony will be held at Point du Hoc, where U.S. Army Rangers climbed the heights to seize enemy gun emplacements during the D-Day assault. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, a Ranger, will provide remarks.
- Closing out the day, a 5 p.m. commemoration ceremony will be held at Utah Beach.
"The people of Normandy truly remember 1944," Soyster said.
In Washington, D.C., the official dedication of the World War II Memorial will be held May 29 on the Mall, Soyster said. President Bush, he added, will participate in the ceremony.
The World War II Memorial dedication, Soyster said, doesn't fall under his committee's purview, but nonetheless "is a major event" for veterans, especially those who can't make the trip to France.
The traditional Memorial Day observance, Soyster said, will be held May 31 at Arlington National Cemetery.
"It's a grand weekend (in Washington), lots of people attending, just continuous events for our World War II veterans," he concluded.