Last year marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the invasion of Normandy. To pay tribute to the fallen soldiers, an 11-year-old American boy did something especially heartfelt and beautiful.
Identifying himself only as "Richie," on his website, this young man started "Project Vigil" in 2013 as "personal remembrance project" that culminated in a visit to France for the anniversary observance.
"In 2014, during the week of the 70th anniversary of D-Day," Richie writes, "my father and I spent four days in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, where I taught people about three paratroopers who are buried there."
Thus began Richie's tribute to the bravery of the soldiers who lost their lives on D-Day.
Richie had planned to return to the American cemetery dressed in a World War II American uniform and carrying a historically accurate flag on June 6. Upon arriving, however, he found that police had locked it down and were not permitting anyone to enter.
Undeterred, Richie went down to Omaha Beach to look out across the English Channel.
Raising his hand in a frozen salute, he stood along the lonely shoreline, staring at the dark waters where, just 70 years earlier, thousands of young men crossed in the largest amphibious assault in history.
Veterans, touched by his tribute, came to thank him for his remembrance.
Richie stood his ground even after the tide came in until he was too tired to hold up his flag. Before his day was done, however, he was joined by someone who truly captured the spirit of his tribute.
Please watch Richie's stirring vigil here:
Richie writes on his website: "So many people were touched by the video that I have decided to create this blog and to broaden our project to include stories and memories of American soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in any war."
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