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The emotions began to fill me during the movie at the Caen-Normandie Memorial Museum. I have watched World War II movies since I was a kid, but those are movies with actors and fake deaths. I have watched documentaries, but I don’t remember ever being this moved.

This was actual footage. These were actual American men and their allied forces being shot and killed. These were images of real men — sunken eyes, extreme exhaustion and looks of bewilderment. These were real images of real people who died in Normandy, and these were real tears that rimmed my eyes. It wasn’t just me. Everyone, the players and coaches who walked out of that room, were quiet, maybe a little stunned, perhaps, like me, wondering how there can be so much carnage.

Experiencing the American Cemetery was emotional to say the least, especially when the national anthem was played and then taps. Nothing makes me crumble like hearing taps and thinking of all our servicemen and women who perished. It was tremendous to pay respect to such an important part of our history and something absolutely unforgettable. It was an honor to place an iris at the base of the “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves” bronze sculpture and I thought of my late father, a WWII veteran who served in the U.S. Army in Greece. Thank you to all who have served and given their lives for all of us.

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