My dad landed on Utah Beach on D-Day. His simple answer on how he did it offers lessons to Americans today

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My father’s service on D-Day 80 years ago – the horror, the sheer hell of crossing the sand that morning – was all something of an abstraction to me. That changed when I saw “Saving Private Ryan,” Steven Spielberg’s masterful, shocking film depicting the horror of the Omaha Beach landings and the grueling combat that followed. 

Suddenly, I could picture it: At just 18 years old, my dad landed with the first wave at Utah Beach and fought for the next month, until a German bullet pierced his helmet, entering his skull and nearly killing him. 

I called my father – by that point retired from a half-century career in dairy distribution – from the lobby of the movie theater, enquiring how he had done it: How did he leave that landing craft facing imminent death? His simple answer was, “It was my duty, son.”  

Members of an American landing unit help their comrades ashore during the Normandy invasion. (Louis Weintraub/Pool Photo via AP)

Patriotic values had always been a

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