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Local WWII Vets Honored At D-Day Memorial

It's been 70 years since allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in one of the turning points of World War Two. A memorial service in Springfield Friday told stories of the young men on the front lines.

The young men of 1944 are old men now. But they still remember.

Springfield resident Jim Hofstetter was 18 on D-Day, the day he enlisted. He knew it was the height of the war, but he also knew he had a job to do for his country.

"It was a fun time," he said. "We had some things that scared me, but in general ... God, the government provided the airplane and the parachute and all we had to do was get out the door."

Hofstetter was stationed in Japan the next year when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

He says he prefers thinking about the positives of his time in the service. One of which was seeing fellow allied forces free those being held by Nazis in Europe. That's the story of John Carrigan's mother. Carrigan is the president of the World War II Illinois Veterans Memorial Board.

"Your firm hand of freedom reached out to a young girl held in a Nazi labor camp in Germany," Carrigan told WWII vets at the service. "You held her hand and you pulled her from the grips of hell."

Carrigan stressed the importance of remembrance of what he calls "the greatest generation." Veterans of the Second World War are becoming more rare all the time; about 500 pass away daily.

Hannah covers state government and politics for Capitol News Illinois. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at WILL-AM/FM, Law360, Capitol Fax and The Daily Line before returning to NPR Illinois in 2020 and moving to CNI in 2023.
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