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Pointe du hoc

“Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.” - Ronald Reagan at Pointe du hoc, June 6, 1984


May 23, 2013 - Share on  Facebook share Google+ share Twitter Share


A Legacy Of Heroes Like 'Junior'

This weekend we set aside our concerns about taxes, tax reform and the political landscape, to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Contrary to popular opinion, Memorial Day is not about shopping, the beach or hotdogs and hamburgers.

It is a time to stop what we are doing, put away our political differences and pay tribute to those individuals – both known and unknown – who have paid the ultimate price for our nation’s freedom.

Individuals like PFC Thomas W. Phillips, Jr. from Bullard, TX.

“Junior” as friends and family knew him, was the energetic and optimistic son of traveling farmers. In 1944, like many other small town boys across America, he left the only home he had ever known for the U.S. Army.

Soon, he was headed for the European theatre and along with 160,000 other terrified yet brave patriots, landed along a desolate, 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified beachfront in Normandy, France. General Dwight D. Eisenhower had told them the evening before, “the eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you.”

General Eisenhower speaks to troops

From Pointe du hoc and beyond the Allied forces D-Day invasion was fully engaged. By most accounts, Junior was rather lucky - having survived the initial assault.

But on July 3, 1944, his jeep hit a landmine in Caen, France immediately killing him. His family, too poor to return his body home to Texas, chose to bury him at The American Cemetery in Normandy, France. His mother and father never saw his grave, nor did any other member of his immediate family.

Thomas W. Phillips was my great uncle. In 1998, I visited his grave at Normandy; one of the most beautiful and hallowed places on earth.

Normandy

During the 3-hour bus ride from Paris, passenger chatter was lively. Upon arrival at the cemetery, our tour guide gave us a specific departure time and location.

At the appointed time, the bus was missing. Approximately 45 minutes later it slowly arrived and we boarded. The tour guide apologized and explained the reason for the delay. 

One of our fellow passengers was an American soldier during the D-Day invasion. That day marked the first time he had returned to the battlefields that claimed so many.  He asked the tour guide if the bus driver could take him to the graves of his best friends; some of which were Allied troops buried in a nearby cemetery.

At that moment there was no passenger chatter - no complaining of the late bus. The only sound was the uncontrollable sobbing coming deep from the soul of a now elderly hero mourning the loss of his fellow brothers in service.

Whatever your plans for this Memorial Day, please take a moment and remember Junior and all of the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I may forever be free.

Until next week,

 Cynthia T. Canevaro - Cindy

Cindy Canevaro

Executive Director

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