Veteran Nearly Missed Anniversary of Normandy Landings

This past June, veterans and civilians from all over the globe celebrated the seventieth anniversary of the Normandy landings. Many were not able to attend for various reasons. Some were too inform, some could not afford the trip, and some simply had scheduling conflicts that stood in the way. One veteran, Sherwin Callander, almost missed the commemorations of the Normandy landings due to not having a passport. Luckily, he made it there in the end.

Callander could not obtain the required identification because he did not have the documents to prove that he was a United States citizen. He reached out for help, and he received it from numerous sources. Between a local politician and many internet users, he was able to hurdle the final obstacles keeping him from the remembrances of the Normandy landings. As one of many soldiers who joined the fighting on Utah Beach, he was anxious to revisit the land in peacetime. The last time he visited, it was a much different site, full of tanks, planes, and the bodies of fallen comrades who fell not long after the invasion began.

Part of the reason it was so difficult to prove himself an American citizen is that, technically speaking, Callander is actually a Canadian. Though he has lived in America for literally as long as he can remember, and having joined the Normandy landings under the American flag, he was not born in the United States. On top of that difficulty, Callander was also in the midst of economic troubles that made a trip to Europe more than slightly impractical.

The internet users who helped him out found him through a service set up by his granddaughter. People donated over twice the requested amount, and Callander was more than set for his trip to honor the Normandy landings. His granddaughter joined him on the trip after not only raising the money but also helping him to gain the necessary credentials required for air travel. Callander was not only able to take a trip that he thought would be beyond his means, but he was able to bring along a beloved family member as well, the Yahoo News reports.

The Normandy landings were one of the greatest events in history, and it is an unfortunate affair that not all surviving participants were able to attend the commemoration ceremonies. For Sherwin Callander, the event was doubly special. Not only did he get to pay tribute to the Normandy landings, but he was also able to truly call himself a United States citizen for the first time.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE