World War II Utah Beach - Memorial Dedication

a number of years ago our family took a trip through France and spent a day at Utah Beach in Normandy..

I experienced a rather bizarre feeling - seeing the German tank grounded in the sand with children climbing over it and tourists posing in front of it for pictures...

There were rolls of barbed wire in the sand dunes but over the dunes people were lounging under rainbow-striped beach umbrellas...the water was at low-tide without a ripple was an idyllic late summer afternoon - and yet those iron relics were an eery anachronistic reminder of some event from the "twilight zone" ..I tried to imagine the fog, the belting rain, the waves, the boats and myriad of bodies storming the dunes...the machine guns firing....and I couldn't fathom the reality of such atrocious chaos standing amid such peaceful beauty. 

My parents and I went to the WW II Memorial dedication in DC this weekend.

The Memorial is for all the "Greatest Generation", those who served in the military and the home front who supported them from 1941-45. Our parents and gradparents generation. Fun meeting the veterans who stopped the Nazi's, fascists, and imperialists, and liberated big parts of Europe and Asia.

And interesting to see how many baby boomers who were there, with and without a parent. Those without were ususally honoring their parents. Lots of people walking up to WWII veterans, and thanking them for their service.

The memorial is great and grand, beautifully located between the Washington and Lincoln Monument. The architectural criticism is wrong - this is a great monument. And it is a monument to an entire group of Americans - the 144,000,000 Americans who fought or supported the war. Much more democratic and appropriate than most of our monuments, erected for a single person.

Only about 1/4 of the vets are still alive 4,000,000 left out of 16,000,000.

The monument is very different than the Vietnam memorial. It is larger, more grand, more celebratory, which it should be. It was a much bigger and more celebratory War. WWII was also a unique time, when the country was united, as opposed to most times, like Vietnam, the present, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War. But the Vietnam memorial is still very powerful and positive.

The Web Site for my fathers World War II Unit

My fathers comments below:

The dedication ceremony was fantistic but long. Even though the weather was perfect, we got sunburn and sore muscles. We arraived at DC in the middle of the afternoon on Friday and tried to get a a look at the memorial but the traffic and and crowds held us to just a glimpse (and the camera was in the car!!) We went back early Sat. and our seats were at the east end of the mall fairly close to the Capital building and about a mile from the memorial. We left Louise to hold our seats and Craig and I decided to walk to the memorial for pictures but when we got there it was closed off to people. Probably a good thing.

If 150,000 all tried to do the same thing, it would have been chaos. But my walking legs haven't recovered yet.

They had lots of huge TV screens in all the seating areas so we could hear and see all the activities very well. Actually they started music and acts about 10:00 AM , had the stuff you may have seen at 12:00 to 2:00, and then went right on with other stuff for the outlying crowds.

Craig had got us reservations in the Fort Belvoir BOQ which turned out to be real nice. But they had lots of security people out checking on credentials. We had ID and drivers licenses but they wanted proof that we owned the car. Our
insurance cards didn't seem to help although why we would have been paying insurance on a terrorist car escapes me. Anyhow they wouldn't let us in. Craig asked what would they do if we had flown in and rented a car which is what most people might do. They said we would then a contract from the car rental company which would show proof of ownership. So, after appealing to all the authorities including trying to get confirmation on our car from Chicago (the coputers were down!!!), we went out and rented a beat up old SUV, parked our car in his lot for two days, and were admitted with no trouble.

What they didn't know was that the hole in the wall company we rented the car from was run by a Syrian emigrant and neither they or we bothered to check his credentials or foreign allegiances!

I should point out at I was discarged from Ft.Belvoir in 1945 and no one seemed to recognize me either. So much for the Army. I should also admit that Craig stopped in to Marine Base at Quantico to show us around and they just saluted him and waved him in in our suspect car. Maybe the Marines are better???

After we got our car back on Sunday morning, we drove back to DC to get some pictures of the memorial. But even at 8AM the crowds were big and my pictures will have lots of strangers in them.

Charles V
Craig- That was so neat that you took your parents to see the new WW II Memorial. The Memorial has certainly been long overdue considering what that generation did for our country and the civilized world. They say that there are 1100 WW II veterans dying a day. Here in St. Louis we have Jefferson Barracks National Cemetary and it has over 152,000 persons buried there from the civil war to the present. It takes your breath away to go there as it did Arlington National Cemetary in Washington, D.C..
Did you know Arlington use to be the plantation of Robert E. Lee? During the Civil War some Northern General took it over and made it a cemetary for Union soldiers to be a slap in the face for Lee supporting the South. If anyone has never been to our nations capital they should really go. There is so much history there and things to see and do. We stayed in Manassas, Virginia and rode the light rail into D.C. every day and came up from the station in front of the Smithsonian each day. We were in D.C. the fall of 2000. Both the Korean and Viet Nam Memorials are very special. One of the neatest places was Ford's Theater where Lincoln was  shot. They have a teriffic museum in the basement of the theater. Charlie


Craig - This was written by a Marine friend of mine.

Very nicely written and done, Ron. I am sure your
daughter will remember your efforts on placing the
flags at the Punch Bowl WW II Cemetary.

My Great Uncle Walter Anderson, who was killed at
Kwajalein in WW II, is buried at the Punch Bowl in Hawaii.

So on behalf of him and our family, we thank you.

Semper Fi

Craig Hullinger

2 Jun 2004  Ron W wrote:

Memorial Day and a Very Important PS

Early Monday morning I gave a concerned look at Katie
and wondered why she was not ready for school yet. I
knew she had off, but wanted to jack her chain a bit.
She did not fall for it, and looking at me with that
"child knowing everything and parent knowing nothing
look," she promptly told me it was Memorial Day, and
she had no school.

I was surprised she even knew it was Memorial Day, but
then asked her what that meant. Well, she didn't know,
so then I told her how after the American Civil War,
Southern women saw that many Confederate and Union
soldiers who were killed in the fighting, did not have
marked graves. They felt sorry for them, so far from
home, and no one to properly take care of their grave,
let alone mark it. It started as a tradition and spread
till eventually it caught on across the nation, It was
originally called Decoration Day, and finally the
President of the United States declared the last Monday
of May as Memorial Day. I told her about Punchbowl and
how I saw on the news that the Boy Scouts were out
there placing an American Flag at each Veterans'
grave. One Boy Scout who was interviewed, placed 200
flags himself, and in all 35,000 small American Flags
were put in the ground next to each grave marker. She
expressed an interest to visit it, even though she
initially said , "Dead people are bad and scary, and
would not want to see all the decaying bodies." I
explained that they were not bad people, and asked if
she thought her Grandparents, who she loved so much
were bad people. She really did not mean "bad" as being
terrible mean people. I told her the Veterans were
buried under the ground and covered with nice grass,
and the cemetery had lots of trees, bushes, and
flowers. I asked her if she was ever at a cemetery, and
she replied, "No." She actually had, but did not
remember being at the cemetery when her Grandparents

So, we headed out on the Windward coastal ride, took
our time, and visited, the Federal VA Cemetery of the
Pacific, Punchbowl. There were thousands of
American Flags, all in neat rows, up and down the
slopes of the dormant volcano overlooking
Honolulu...quite a sight. As we drove down one lane I
noticed an American Flag that had blown over, stopped
the jeep, got out, and up righted it, got back in and
continued on. Then we saw there were more fallen over,
I stopped again, and eventually Linda and Katie joined
me in up righting more flags, and flower pots, that had
blown over. I was real proud of both of them.

We visited the immense monument depicting the Battle of
the Pacific, and let Katie go at her own pace, asking
questions and wanting to "touch" the mosaic maps of the
different campaigns and battles. I think she wanted to
touch them just because they were fenced off.

Anyway we got back home about 1800, had Mahi Mahi on
the grill and ate outside with the tiki torches
going...really nice and relaxing.

Semper Fi,
and God Bless America!!!



Craig - Letters about my Great Uncle

APO 7, c /O Postmaster
San Francisco, California

20 February 1944

Mr. & Mrs. Peter. Anderson
Murdo, South Dakota

Dear Mr. & Mrs. P. Anderson:

Words are inadequate in trying to express the feelings
of the officers and men of this organization over the
death of your son, Walter Anderson.

Early in this training phase Walter was singled out as
an outstanding noncommissioned officer, and was
assigned the duties of Platton Sgt. over numerous
senior Sgts. Such an assignment meant that Walter was
second in command of thirty-eight men. While serving in
such a capacity the men in his platoon soon realized
and appreciated his fine qualities, namely, fairness,
coolness, and a great deal of common sense.

During the operation S/Sgt. Anderson became platoon
commander, again in which capacity he skillfully led
his men. For above action I have recommended that
S/Sgt. Anderson be awarded the Bronze Star. Walter was
struck by rifle fire and died shortly afterward.

Please feel free to call upon me for additional
information you may desire.

Military restrictions are such that any information you
may desire concerning grave locations, dispostiions of
remains, effects, and other related matters will be
furnished by the Quartermaster General.

You have the deepest sympathy of the men and officers
of this organization in your bereavement.

Yours most sincerely

Capt. Infantry


Murdo, S. D

December 20, 1991

Dear Craig:

Walt graduated from Murdo High School in 1936, during
the worst of the big depression. It was next to
impossible to get a job but he worked for Edna
and Helmer Liffengren most of the time until 1940.

He was one of the first volunteers for service and left
from Murdo in January 1941. Basic Training in Camp
Roberts in California, later in Fort Ord, CA. His
outfits stormed ashore on an island in the Aleutions,
Alaska sometime before 1943, but the Japanese had all
left so they went on to Hawaii. Walt was a very good
all around athlete so he was picked to take Ranger
training while there. A very tough course, so they say.

The Navy had shelled the small island of Kwajelein,
about a mile wide and two deep for days until not a
tree was standing but when the infantry went in there
were still enemy in underground bunkers who came out
and shot 3 or 4 hundred of our men. Walt was one of
them, on February 4, 1944. His body was buried nearby
until the war was over. With the parents request, he
is buried in the National Cemetery in Hawaii, the very
beautiful Punch Bowl. We were there in 1974.

Paul Anderson (Brother of Walter Anderson,
Uncle to Louise Liffengren Hullinger


My Uncle received the Bronze Star 50 years after he earned it. My cousin knew the story that the award had been recommended, but lost in the shuffle. He wrote to his Congressman. They found the citation, and awarded it to the family.

More on my uncle below:

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