June 3, 2013
What a day, and what a story you will see next week. Halfway between Paris and Caen is the small French town of Les Ventes. The town, and its people turned out today for the return, not for an American veteran (although we brought 8 with us), but for the wife of one.
Peggy Harris lost her husband, P51 pilot Billy Harris, in this town, on July 17, 1944. This story will make your jaw drop when you hear about when Peggy found out the real story of what happened to her husband. Her husband has been remembered and revered in this town since the day he was shot down. His wife unfortunately, only recently found that out. The children in this town can tell you the entire story of Billy Harris.
Here, history is rich, respect is everywhere, especially for those who fought to liberate this country 69 years ago. As our D Day vets handed candy to the town’s children — just like they did in this same country during WW2 — there were many smiles. The children sang songs for our group, waved French and U.S. flags. It was a festive atmosphere, but sobering at the same time.
Mrs. Harris is a proud Texan. Proud of her husband and his sacrifice. Proud that she’s chosen to stay married to him for her entire life, just like he did for her. We sat down at length, to talk about her connection to this tiny little town, just like her small town of Vernon, back in Texas. We also talked a while about her emotional connection to a man who has lived here his entire life. He also happens to be the only person living who witnessed Billy Harris’ last moments alive.
It’s a stirring story, that I hope you’ll take the time to watch next week. All our stories from Normandy kick off on Sunday night on CBS11 news at 10 p.m.. Then Monday through Friday, same show, same time. Peggy and our vets have had a very long, and at times emotional day.
It’s nearly 7 p.m., and now time to rest. In the morning, it’s an hour’s drive to a place where just under 10,000 U.S. servicemen are buried, near the Normandy coastline. Goodnight from Caen, France.
The Daughters of World War II, is responsible for taking veterans on this once in a lifetime trip. The Dallas-based non-profit organization operates solely from donations. If you’d like to donate, click here to visit their website.
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