It has been 70 years since D-Day.
When the emcee of the anniversary remembrance in Springfield today asked for World War II veterans to stand, perhaps two dozen were able to, including a handful who were part of the events at Normandy on June 6, 1944.
Jim Hofstetter of Springfield was a 17-year-old in Salem, Ill., that day – and he signed up.
“I told my 13-year-old girlfriend to go have fun at high school, that I didn’t think I’d be back.”
She didn’t wait for him.
“She married three times and had five kids,” Hofstetter says.
The wartime stories are bittersweet for John Carrigan, president of the Illinois Veterans’ Memorial board. “My mother was a Nazi labor camp survivor,” he said before a long pause. “A survivor only because of America’s brave.”
The ceremony was at the World War II memorial, just downhill from Lincoln’s Tomb, at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.