JOHNSTON, Iowa – Officials at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum say no artifact tells a better story than a veteran. But with the average age of a World War II veteran being well over 80, many of those memories are lost.
“Within the next five or ten years the D-Day veterans will be gone and we have to rely on historians,” said curator Michael Vogt.
Hoping to preserve some of those memories, the museum encourages all veterans to come in for an on camera interview.
In honor of D-Day volunteer and veteran Conrad Wiser built a diorama of Omaha Beach, one of the five famous beaches along the Normandy Coast. “This kind of puts everything together. It shows how all these different artifacts in the museum fit into the bigger picture,” said Wiser.
The diorama illustrates just how difficult Omaha Beach’s terrain was. It was filled with natural and man-made obstacles, making it one of the most restricted and heavily defended beaches.
About 35,000 Americans landed there and another 115,000 troops landed along the coast of Normandy 70 years ago today. It was the largest amphibious military assault in history.
WWII veteran Richard D. Peterson joined them on Omaha Beach less than a month after D-Day. “I hope they remember those of us that were there or involved in one way or another are not going to be here much longer. And I just hope they remember,” said Peterson.
The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum has interviewed more than 200 WWII veterans. The museum is sharing some of those videos with visitors today.