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The Idaho Military History Museum commemorates D-Day and the storming of Normandy

The Idaho Military History Museum is hosting a special event to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day. If you missed this free event on Saturday, it will also be held on Sunday, June 9.

“D-Day is one of the most iconic events of World War II,” said Charles Read of the Idaho Military Historical Society. “We commemorate that event, but we also invite people to come back because admission to our museum is free.”

D-Day took place on June 6, 1944, when Allied troops captured the beaches of Normandy, France. Less than a year later, the Germans surrendered. Last October, retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Rick Johnson visited these sacred sites.

“I had to wade out into the water to get a feel for where all the ships were and then turn around and look at the cliffs,” Johnson said. “I thought it didn't matter if you were German or American, it was going to be a bad day.”

A map of the beaches of Normandy

Johnson packed some of the sand into bags and sent it as Christmas gifts to the other soldiers he served with. Because he was a veteran, he was also allowed to visit the American burial site in Normandy.

“When you think of the 10,000 graves of our fallen warriors that we have lost that are in this cemetery, it brings tears to your eyes,” Johnson said.

Johnson prepares to hand over fire command to his team

Johnson brought his collection of historical memorabilia, as did several other veterans. The D-Day commemoration provides a good opportunity to learn about history, as Johnson led a live cannon demonstration at 11 a.m. There will also be a small arms fire demonstration at 1 p.m.

“This event is about World War II, so there's British, American and Allied stuff,” said Read. “We also have some stuff about the Axis powers and in the museum itself there's a lot more information about World War II, artifacts and lots of weapons displays.”

History comes to life in the museum

The D-Day commemoration event will take place again on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will again feature live fire demonstrations, a food truck and children can have their faces painted in camouflage colors.

Anna Harden

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