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D-Day: Down to Earth—Return of the 507th

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Why were the veterans so motivated to build the monument?
Phil: We touch on this in the film a bit, but we did not have enough supporting material to expand on their efforts with the monument. The larger story is that over the last half-century a number of memorials were established in Normandy to honor various groups. However, there was little if any mention of the 507th. To many within the regiment, this seemed wrong. Not because they'd missed out on their own sense of personal glory, but for the men in the regiment who'd given their lives. You will hear it often from any veteran, "The heroes are the guys we left behind." They will also say that any person who's ever engaged in battle knows it was only pure luck that allowed them to safely return home. So I can only assume there's a sense of responsibility and brotherhood in this that few of us can imagine. But they are also rightly proud of their accomplishments as a group. Several of the men in the regiment worked very hard for two to three years on the memorial project—buying land in Normandy, designing and commissioning the monument, and organizing the memorial trip. It was an enormous effort done by men in their 80s.

It is important to note that there is a second monument at the 507th memorial site dedicated to the people of Normandy. There's a shot of it in the final segment of the film where John Marr talks about "people coming together." It's one of my favorite moments in the film. Most veterans feel a great sense of connection with the Norman people for their support and friendship during the war and in the many years since.