Brix, France — Some of the veterans attending the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings here in France have fascinating stories.
Take George Ciampa, the most vibrant and spry 89-year-old I have ever met. In 1944, he landed in Normandy as a soldier assigned to the 84th Graves Registration Unit. “I spent the next few years going from France to Germany helping to bury people,” he told me. He was involved in setting up the temporary military cemeteries in Normandy that have now become stirring memorials to our fallen dead.
The experience transformed George, and he eventually became a filmmaker celebrating America’s heroes. His website tells the story of the four documentaries he has done on military valor. He is still making films today.
This week, George received a call from the White House, who said they knew he would be over in France during D-Day, and wondered if he would attend a private meeting the White House was arranging for veterans with President Obama.
George thought about it for awhile and concluded he just couldn’t. “I have so many issues with the president’s policies, including the most recent ones,” he told me ruefully. “I just couldn’t convince myself to do it.”
He is not alone. The recent Bergdahl prisoner swap in which five hardened Taliban terrorists were released from prison is rubbing a lot of the military veterans attending D-Day events the wrong way. “It’s not that we don’t want to respect the commander-in-chief,” one told me sadly. “It’s just that he makes it so hard to do so.”