Two weeks from today, June 6, 2019, marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day. D-Day was the day in 1944 that more than 160,000 Allied troops landed in France to fight Nazi Germany. Their commander was General Dwight David Eisenhower. He told the troops: “The eyes of the world are upon you.” He said, “We will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were either killed or wounded that day.
My father-in-law Wesley Notgrass, my husband’s Dad, our children’s Granddaddy, landed on the French coastline the following day. Eisenhower had planned it that way. American troops, including Wesley Notgrass, had been waiting in England for the orders to go across the English Channel and head for Germany. In Wesley’s unit, some men got orders to hit the beaches on D-Day, some on D plus 1, and some on D plus 30. Wesley hoped for D plus 30, but his orders were for D plus 1.
When the time came for Wesley to leave Bristol, England, where he had been stationed since October of 1943, officials awakened him in the middle of the night. He and his fellow soldiers had breakfast at 2:00 a.m. They piled into trucks and headed out into the night without headlights. Wesley thought they would leave from Southampton, but when he saw a statue of Pilgrims John and Priscilla Alden, he knew that he would be heading to France from Plymouth, the same place from which the Pilgrims had headed to America 324 years before.
Wesley and his fellow soldiers piled onto an LST, a landing ship tank. His LST arrived safely though Wes’ helmet had blown off on the way. The LST beside his hit a mine. It carried many tanks and therefore sank quickly. Only two men survived.
Ray and I were thrilled to tour an LST a couple of years ago, having heard Wesley talk about them so many times.
For about fifteen years, our son John Notgrass has been stepping into character to share his grandfather’s life story in a first-person narrative, from growing up as an only child in Columbia, Tennessee, in the 1920s and 30s through his experiences during the war. John wears the actual uniform that Sergeant Wesley Notgrass was wearing when his ship sailed into New York Harbor when the war was over. John illustrates his One Soldier’s Story program with photographs from Wesley’s collection, including ones he took overseas during World War II.
Notgrass History is excited to announce that John has scheduled three 75th Anniversary of D-Day performances in Middle Tennessee. If you are in the area, please join us. What a wonderful way to honor all veterans with this high-quality performance of One Soldier’s Story.
Those of you who have studied Exploring America have read Wesley’s story in Lesson 114. I know you would enjoy this program. I have seen it many times and I can’t wait to see it on these three very special occasions. Notgrass History is sponsoring these programs. Admission is free to all performances.
Wednesday, June 5
American Legion Post 19
812 Nashville Highway
Columbia, Tennessee (Wes’s hometown!)
Thursday, June 6
Gainesboro Church of Christ
313 S. Murray Street
Thursday, June 6
Peachtree Learning Center
402 North Walnut Avenue
(If you can’t attend any of these live performances, John will be doing a bonus online presentation Thursday, May 30, at 2:00 p.m. Central Time. You can watch on your computer, tablet, or phone. Register here.)
I asked Ray last night what verse he would choose if he could choose one to describe his Dad. He said, “If you’d give me two, I’d say Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
against such things there is no law.