What to Know
- Ceremonies commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day took place across the tri-state
- On June 6, 1944, American and Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy in invasion that ultimately broke Nazi's grip on Western Europe
- Memorial ceremonies honoring the brave veterans of the largest seaborne invasion in history took place in New Jersey and New York
They struggle now to rise to their feet to salute the country they bravely served, but their memories are strong and painful.
“I worked in the OR at the 160th General Hospital as an operating technician I witnessed the sacrifices of those veterans I couldn’t sleep I dreamed it I can’t talk about it,” retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Agea said.
June 6, 1944 marked the turning point in World War II as 160,000 American and Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy in the invasion that would ultimately break the Nazi’s grip on Western Europe. Ultimately, 10,000 American soldiers would never return home after the largest seaborne invasion in history.
On Thursday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy spoke at the New Jersey World War II Memorial in Trenton to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, reaffirming the debt this nation -- and the world -- owes to those who served.
“Without the courage of the greatest generation, the liberty and freedom that we had enjoyed could easily have been extinguished. They sacrificed so that these ideals could remain paramount,“ Murphy said.
Those in attendance listened intently to the oral histories of Army rangers and pilots who watched their comrades die in the blood-soaked sand and water off Omaha Beach.
“I just missed going over. They had trained 8000 glider pilots but they only needed 2,000 for the invasion. I wasn’t one of them,” veteran Joseph Spicer said.
While some may not have been on the front lines, they still recall their own sacrifices.
“It brought back memories,” veteran George Husjoke said. “I wish my brother was here.“
Meanwhile in New York, more than 40 World War II veterans sat side-by-side at the Long Island veterans home for a memorial ceremony.
"There was no words to explain the feeling we had on that day," 97-year-old Philip DiMarco said.
DiMarco was wounded when he came ashore at Normandy. Alongside his Purple Heart, DiMarco still has the piece of Nazi shrapnel that nearly killed him.
DiMarco, alongside two other veterans, 96-year-old Frank DePergola and 93-year-old Charles Cino, were all honored with special New York state medals.
While, their minds are not as sharp as they once were, their memories of that day are still strong and meaningful, one of their family members told NBC 4 New York.
These World War II veterans are in their 90s now, most willing to share their memories of that moment in history, while humbled that this country remembers what they will never forget.