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June 6th, 1944 marked a turning point in World War II as allied troops invaded Normandy, France in the biggest takeover to date.

Today, on the 70th Anniversary of this pivotal moment in history, the world paused to remember and honor those who were there.

Local officials marked the anniversary by paying tribute to World War II Veterans in Orland Park at a commemoration ceremony.

The oldest veteran honored saw action in WWII, 91-year-old Nick Zaglifa was among those flown into France 70 years ago today.

“In the army you hooked up on a line that took you out the door,” Zaglifa said.

“…And so you don’t freeze you would jump up and down to keep your legs moving, and once that line started you had actually had to follow it through, you couldn’t stop.”

Zaglifa’s unit was diverted away from Normandy on D-Day.

He said he considers himself lucky to parachute in elsewhere, but he said he lost many friends on the beach on this day, 70 years ago.

He and other senior veterans marked this anniversary by remembering past wars and victory and looking to the future.

Zaglifa said time has flown by since his time in the service and in many ways, WWII doesn’t seem so long ago.

But he said the reality of numerous American wars since makes it clear that the fight for freedom continues.

What veterans are most thankful for today is the gratefulness of Americans, especially the young ones.

“They have saved many lives in America and we should thank them for it,” said 10-year-old Raymond Barkmeier, who attended the commemoration ceremony.

But for 93-year-old war veteran Cliff Hullinger, he said his service was more than an act of valor, it was a necessity.

“If we hadn’t, we’d lost that war, it wouldn’t have happened at all who knows what we’d have, it’d be a completely different world,” he said.

“We had to win it.”


News writer, Judith Ruiz-Branch