June 6th, 1944: D-Day. At 0630 hours, 12,000 aircraft, 7,000 naval vessels, 160,000 Allied troops and 195,000 Allied sailors began the largest amphibious invasion in history. It marked the beginning of the Normandy campaign, code-named “Operation Overlord.”
Two weeks from today will mark the 70th anniversary of this historic event. And once again, many of North Carolina’s brave World War II veterans will be on the move — but this time to Bedford, Virginia, the site of the National D-Day Memorial. To honor the men and women who planned, worked, fought and died for our freedom in the Normandy invasion, Rotary Clubs of North Carolina are sponsoring our state’s surviving veterans to travel to the memorial with Operation Overlord 2014.
This moving video features interviews with local veterans of the D-Day invasion and Mr. Chris Burns of the Hendersonville Rotary Club. Operation Overlord 2014 was conceived and organized by the Hendersonville Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Asheville and has now expanded to every Rotary district across the state.
Over 10,000 people are expected to attend the June 6 festivities, including HonorAir groups from all over North Carolina. HonorAir was started in 2005 by Hendersonville’s own Jeff Miller to fly every World War II veteran to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. HonorAir and the National Honor Flight programs have flown more than 100,000 World War II veterans to the nation’s capitol until their last flight landed home in 2011.
CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Bill Geist perhaps summed it up best in this touching 2007 video segment about HonorAir and the soldiers of the greatest generation: “They answered the call and saved the world.”
If you would like to support this project, please visit the group’s website (click “Donate Now” to make a donation via credit card or PayPal), or send a check to: Asheville Rotary Club Foundation (Attention: Becky Girard) ℅ Home Trust Bank, P.O. Box 10, Asheville, NC 28802. The Asheville Rotary Club Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 non-profit.
Rotary is an international service organization founded in 1905 to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. Rotary’s motto is “Service above Self.”