In celebrating July 4th, America’s Birthday, we honor so many individuals who have fought for our freedom and safety. While visiting at Crown Point in Johnston, Matthew Rita and Richard Peterson discovered they were within ten miles of each other during WWII in France. They were located in the Cherbourg Pennisula at the Battle of Cherbourg which was part of the Battle of Normandy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Overlord. It was fought immediately after the successful Allied http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allies_of_World_War_II landings on June 6, 1944. American troops isolated and captured the fortified port, which was considered vital to the campaign in Western Europe, in a hard-fought, month-long campaign.
Richard and Matthew exchanged details of their duties and how they played a part in the effort to defeat Hitler and keep the NAZI’s from taking over Europe. Lieutenant Colonel Richard Peterson was living in the Drake area of Des Moines Iowa and was ordered to active duty from the ROTC in August of 1941 before Pearl Harbor at the age of 23. Corporal Mathew Rita, was living on the South side of Chicago and was drafted on Thanksgiving Day in 1943 at the young age of 18 years old.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Peterson stated he was flown into Omaha Beach to survey the Port of Cherbourg to determine if it was safe enough and how soon we could use it for a place to bring in the necessary supplies for the troops. While reflecting on their experiences both solders expressed the bravery necessary to fight for our freedom. When asked if they were ever afraid, they both said, yes, of course. Corporal Matthew Rita stated while recovering from an injury in the hospital in France; a catholic nun told him the following: “Hope is the tickling sensation around the heart that you can’t scratch.”
Fortunately for us, both of these men came back safely to their families. These two men came together by chance at Crown Point and enriched so many of us with their stories. Today we celebrate with gratitude and appreciation everything these men and thousands of others did to allow us the independence we enjoy today. Bless Matt and Richard, as well as all individuals who are currently serving in order that we may maintain our freedom.