Washington Honors Greatest Generation at D-Day and Midway Anniversaries (Photos)
Members of the "Greatest Generation" were honored this week in Washington D.C., on the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Midway on June 4 at the United States Navy Memorial, and on the 70th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 at the World War II Memorial.
Many of those who participated in these seminal battles, almost all now in their 90s, were on hand to participate in the commemoration ceremonies. Journalist Tom Brokaw coined the term "Greatest Generation" to describe those brave individuals who were called upon to defend America and the West from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
The Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942, just six months after Pearl Harbor, saw the complete destruction of a large task force of the Imperial Japanese Navy, including the sinking of four Japanese aircraft carriers. Midway was considered a turning point in the Pacific Theater of the war and ranks as one of the major naval battles in history. The ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial was marked by a commemorative wreath-laying by Admiral Mark Ferguson, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, and Lieutenant General Ronald L. Bailey, Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations, U.S. Marine Corps. Six original participants of the Battle of Midway were present on the occasion.
The Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy marked a major turning point for the war in Europe. Combined Allied forces assaulted five beaches, code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Hitler's vaunted "Atlantic Wall" was breached in a day at a cost of 10,000 American, British and Canadian casualties, The ceremony was highlighted by commemorative wreath layings, representing the embassies of each of the European Allies who participated in the landings, as well as speeches by Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Elliot 'Toby' Roosevelt III, the great-grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. They were joined by representatives of 14 countries and several dozen veterans of the battle. Eisenhower read the D-Day order that her grandfather sent to the troops and a letter the future president prepared in case the invasion failed. Roosevelt read FDR's D-Day prayer.
View our images from the D-Day and Midway anniversary commemorations by clicking on the photo icons below.