Chicago area ceremonies commemorate D-Day 80th anniversary of Normandy beach invasion

Mark Rivera Image
Thursday, June 6, 2024
Chicago area ceremonies commemorate D-Day 80th anniversary
Eighty years after allied troop stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, ceremonies in Chicago and the suburbs commemorated military veterans.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Ceremonies in Chicago and the suburbs commemorated those who gave their lives for freedom 80 years ago on the beaches of Normandy.

Wreaths were laid in the city commemorating the courage, honor and sacrifice of soldiers swooping into war torn Europe on D-Day.

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Former 11th Ward alderman and Vietnam Marines veteran Jim Balcer marked the moment allies stormed French beaches on June 6, 1944 and the importance of the strategic shoreline success.

"We want all of American to remember what was done on this day 80 years ago," he said.

D-Day marked the start of France's liberation from fascist Nazi occupation, and the beginning of the end of a vile regime that's cornerstone was pain and suffering.

In west suburban Wheaton, at Cantigny Park, a physical and artistic representation of what those soldiers saw as they stormed the beaches of Normandy is on display, including powerful personal stories of those who sacrificed everything.

"We wanted to really recognize the sacrifice on Omaha Beach," said Jessica Waszak, curator of the "Nothing but Victory" exhibit. "Being able to walk a path that is so similar to what our soldiers did 80 years ago today."

Hundreds gathered in the park to pay homage to the past and those who gave their life fighting for freedom and the democratic way. Susan Spathelf's father Glennis Hall was only 18 when he stepped onto the sands of Normandy.

"Giving for their country sometimes their lives, having to go through red water from the blood of all those who were already not able to go on," she said.

Richard Skonning served in the Army in the 1960s and said the soldier's sacrifices must be remembered.

"What they gave their lives for was our country," he said.

Dustin Bernstein brought his 5-year-old son Maximus to the outdoor exhibit.

"Without what happened 80 years ago, how much different the world would be," he mused.