Remarks: Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal addresses the audience at a reception "Saluting World War II Veterans on the 68th Anniversary of D-Day" at the Fort Myer Officers' Club (Koran Room), prior to honoring the WWII veterans at "Twilight Tattoo", June 6, 2012, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.
Welcome and thank you for coming to this evening's Twilight Tattoo.
On this same day, June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline on the beaches of Normandy, France.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which "we will accept nothing less than full victory."
More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day's end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot- hold in Normandy.
The D-Day cost was high - more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but more than 100,000 Soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Tonight we pay special tribute to those who participated in this fateful day, and to the more than 16 million Americans who put on an American uniform and served during World War II.
To the allied nations who suffered under the tyranny of the axis powers. And to all of those who died in the holocaust and the more than 16 million military casualties.
When we move to the parade field and are joined by more than two thousand spectators mostly young people. It is important that they recognize that the freedoms they enjoy today are the result of the sacrifice millions of people from all over the world made to insure their liberty.
No greater act of bravery was ever carried out than that of millions of citizen soldiers and civilians who faced and defeated tyranny and rebuilt the world and this country.
Tonight, we are joined by a small group of those brave men who fought in WW II. But before I introduce them, let me recognize a few friends that have joined us today.
**Sen Max Cleland is a Vietnam Vet, a Silver Star recipient (3rd highest combat military decoration), a recipient of the Bronze star for meritorious service under combat, an Administrator of the VA, a United States Senator, and my friend.
**Sen Frank Lautenberg (NJ) is a WW II veteran who will say a few words later in the program, but he sits on the Appropriations, Commerce Science & Technology and Environment & Public Works Committees...and is a friend.
**Sen Danny Akaka (Aloha) is a WW II veteran and sits on the Armed Services, Banking, Homeland Security Committees. He Chairs the Indian Affairs Committee; he Chairs the Army Caucus, and is a friend.
**Sen Susan Collins (Maine), who will make a few comments later in the program, is a US Senator, the Ranking member on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Appropriations Committee, the Armed Services Committee, and is my friend.
**Rep Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), who will also make some remarks later in the program, serves on the Appropriations, Budget Oversight, Government Reform Committees. She was an early advocate and leader in the building of a WW II Memorial and is a friend of our men and women in uniform.
**Amb Jan Jozef Matthysen: Belgium
**Former Amb to Russia, John Beyrle. His father Joseph Beyrle was one of the first American Paratroopers to Land in Normandy. He was the only American to have served in the both the US and Soviet Armies. After being captured by the Germans, he escaped and came in contact with a Soviet tank brigade and took up arms with them in the invasion of Germany. Because of this he was able to free Stalag III-C where he was last held prisoner by the Germans.
**SMA Ray Chandlet and his wife Jean
**MDW Commander: MG Michael Linnington
**Old Guard Commander: COL David Anders
**Col Tom Palmatier -- Commander of Pershing's Own
**Soldiers of The Old Guard
**The Army Chorus under the direction of CPT Curtis Kinzey
**My Wife ….Linda whose dad, SGT Wilbur McMaster was a WWII Army veteran who served in the Pacific theater.
Tonight we will witness a time-honored tradition that blends the precision and discipline of the The Old Guard with the orchestral sounds of The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own.
The history of Twilight Tattoo began more than 300 years ago as British troops were summoned from local pubs by a bugle and drum call to return to the barracks.
The familiar tune told tavern owners "doe den tap toe, " or "time to turn off the taps." The troops knew the call to mean "taps off," and to head back …or in many cases stumble back….to the barracks.
The modern-day call is known as "Tattoo" which comes from TAPTOO. During basic training the call signals the time to quiet down and hit the bunks.
In Washington, the Twilight Tattoo serves to demonstrate the traditions and discipline of the United States Army and to pay tribute to our nation.
This evening, I have the privilege to personally welcome a small group of Veterans of World War II.
Tom Brokaw coined the term "the Greatest Generation" to describe these extraordinary Americans who have joined us tonight.
Brokaw wrote that it was: "a generation of towering achievement and modest demeanor…a legacy of their formative years when they were participants in and witnesses to sacrifices of the highest order. They know how many of the best of their generation didn't make it to their early twenties, how many brilliant scientist, teacher, spiritual and business leaders, politician and artist were lost thin the ravages of the greatest war the world has seen."
"Millions of men and women were involved in this tumultuous journey through adversity and achievement despair and triumph. Certainly there were those who failed to measure up, but taken as a whole this generation did have a "rendezvous with destiny" that went well beyond the outsized expectations of President Roosevelt when he first issue that call to duty in 1936."
These veterans you will meet today represent that generation that fought in the deserts of Africa, stormed the Beaches of Normandy traversing Europe into the Heart of Nazi Germany and battled in the jungles and islands of the Pacific all the way to Japan.
They defeated fascism, genocide and oppression, and they emerged from the experience to make the United States and the world a better place in which to live.
As Brokaw asserted this generation provided "succeeding generations the opportunity to accumulate great economic wealth, political muscle, and the freedom from foreign oppression to make whatever choices they like"….. "It is a generation that, by and large, made no demands of homage from those who followed and prospered economically, politically, and culturally because of its sacrifices."
Joining us this evening are a few of these great heroes: I am NOT going to ask you to hold your applause:
1. PFC Albert Darago Jr.
2. SGM (Dr.) Walter Brown
3. SGT Donald Collins
4. SSG Louis Cunningham
5. CPL David Bailey
6. COL Douglas Dillard (WWII, Korea, Vietnam)
7. CW2 Robert Franke
8. CPT James Ellicot Tyson Hopkins
9. PFC William Kracov
10. CPL (Senator) Frank Lautenberg
11. LT (Navy) Bernard Resnick
12. LTC Alfred Shehab
13. SSGT James Lyman
14. Daniel Akaka, US Corps of Engineers
15. SSG Romeo Faggiola
- And three veterans who were involved with the Normandy Invasion 68 years ago today
1. MAJ (Dr) Earnest Gloyna
2. Petty Officer, 2nd Class Fredrick Griswold
3. SFC Walter Heline
Now I would like to afford our honored guests the opportunity to say a few words
--Remarks from honorees--
It is for these reasons that I am proud to dedicate this evening's tattoo to commemorating the 68th Anniversary of D-Day and Honoring Those Who Severed in World War II.
Thank you for your service, your sacrifice and your contributions to America.
But I cannot end without also thanking the men and women who have put on the uniform and have bravely served our country through more than ten years of combat.
[Thank you for your service and sacrifice to this great nation.]