Long before D-Day on June 6, 1944, tens of thousands of Americans were already taking the fight deep into Nazi Germany and Occupied Europe during World War II.
While the Allies prepared for the day when they could hit the beaches of Normandy, airmen risked their lives daily in the skies, most of them as crewmen in massive flights of B-17 heavy bombers carrying out strategic bombing against the German war machine.
Before fighter planes were brought to the front that could escort the bombers all the way to their targets, the bomber crews were on their own against enemy fighters and flak. In one ill-fated raid alone, more than 600 airmen were lost.
Harvin Abrahamson was there. He returned from the greatest war in the skies the world has seen, and he has survived to tell the tale this Memorial Day.
Abrahamson will be the featured guest at the Wauwatosa Memorial Day Observance from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Monday at Longfellow Middle School.
Also featured will be an address from Mayor Kathy Ehley and a performance by the Wauwatosa Community Band, playing patriotic favorites.
This year, for the first time, the winners of a middle school-age essay contest on the subject "What Memorial Day Means" will be recognized and awarded by the Wauwatosa Civic Celebration Commission, which sponsors the Memorial Day Observance.
Pinelawn honors those in current conflicts
Tradition prevails at Pinelawn Memorial Park, 10700 W. Capitol Dr., in hosting a Memorial Day program, but this year the focus is on today – veterans returning or recently returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those who have died there.
The ceremony begins at 9:45 a.m. Monday at Veteran's Island in the center of the cemetery.
The program will feature keynote speaker Marcea Weiss, a Wisconsin veteran who grew up in North Lake. She served with the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions as a Black Hawk helicopter test pilot, maintenance manager and training officer.
Weiss published her book, "Leaving the Military," to help other transitioning veterans.
Guests are encouraged to stay pay tribute to the men and women of Wisconsin who have lost their lives these conflicts by visiting a "Field of Honor" being developed for this special weekend.
Donations will be collected to support the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight program, and light refreshments will be served. Guests are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket for your comfort during the program.