NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The National World War II Museum honored a dwindling number of D-Day veterans Tuesday, on the anniversary of the invasion which led to the end of World War II.
It was a moving tribute, that included an award ceremony from the government of France, for a sacrifice which led to liberation.
They are seen as some of the bravest of the brave.
"It was rough I mean rough, you can't believe how much machine gun fire and mortars," said D-Day veteran Roy Boyter.
They were among a group of 160,000 soldiers who took part in the largest amphibious invasion the world has ever seen.
"The last time I looked I was James Mathew Weller, born on the 4th of July," said Weller, another D-Day veteran.
When the World War II museum opened on the D-Day anniversary in the year 2000, there were 500 veterans in attendance, today, only a handful are left, all in their mid-90's.
"I was laying in the water, and I felt something bumping on my back, it was a dead soldier," said Boyter.
"These guys went through so much. If you've ever been to Normandy and look at the beach, " said Bill Detweiler with the museum.
Four D-Day veterans sat in the front row, to receive the French Legion of Honor.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to the Americans who came to liberate Europe," said French Consul General Gregor Trumel.
Some of the veterans came in by bus from the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
"It means everything I can think of that has value substance and memory," said World War II veteran Lawrence Cunningham.
They were brought in, by the Hogan family.
"Most are patients of my husband's and we have a love of this country and what they sacrificed for us," said Kristen Hogan.
"I was one of the first blacks to be allowed into the marine corps," said World War 2 veteran David Potts.
And his treatment wasn't always fair.
"They refused to serve us blacks in the chow hall at Camp Miramar," Potts said.
While the veterans were honored to be awarded today, one felt very strongly about the treatment some veterans are receiving.
"To be truthful that's what's bothering me, the way the government is treating the people without their legs, they should have top priority and their widows," said Weller.
Weller credits his late wife Josephine, for his longevity. "She was my post my pillar, my everything."
And in her memory, and the memory of fallen comrades, he accepts his award, on this, the 73rd anniversary of the heroic D-Day invasion.
This is also the 17th anniversary of the opening of the National World War II Museum. It has tripled in size since it began back in 2000, and is now considered one of the best museums in the world.
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