Fifthteen years ago, my friend and Founder of The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation, Timothy Davis embarked on a mission to bring WWII veterans (and now Vietnam as well) back to the battlefields on which they fought.
It’s been a long, but rewarding, road, though it hasn’t always been easy. As the veterans aged, Timothy realized that to best serve these men, he needed a custom-built facility to accommodate their needs to use as a base camp for our future programs; a place that not only would give them the five-star experience that they so richly deserve for their sacrifice, but one that would preserve and perpetuate their legacy for generations to come after they’re gone. A lofty goal if ever there was one.
He officially accomplished that goal with 101st Airborne D-day veteran Joseph Reilly and 29th Infantry veteran Steven Melnikoff cutting the ribbon on La Maison de la Libération (house of liberation) in St. Marie du Mont, in Normandy.
Formerly the German headquarters for the Utah Beach region Pre-DDay and then headquarters for the 4th Infantry Division, the house is like no other in Normandy. It’s been completely renovated to accommodate our veterans, including custom bathrooms, a chef’s kitchen and even an elevator!
Even more incredible is the original German artwork on the walls of the ground floor dining room and salon. It’s the only such artwork found anywhere in France and has designated the house as a national historic landmark. We are professionally restoring and preserving it to the high standards of French law.
It was an emotional ceremony for Timothy, his Family, and the veterans, attended also by the architect, many of the men who worked on the project and local members of the community, including the mayor. We planted a beautiful Korean dogwood tree in honor of Mr. Reilly, popped copious amounts of champagne and invited anyone and everyone to tour the facility.
Over the next three years (until the 75th anniversary of the end of the war) Tim’s goal is to bring 750 WWII veterans through for week long programs. When not in use for the programs, the facility will be free to use for veterans of WWII and their families. Once the vets are gone, the house will become an educational center that will reward outstanding teachers who demonstrate a passion for preserving the legacy of what our veterans accomplished and sacrificed, with free access to the facility for themselves and select students, as a base camp to bring WWII history to life. It will be an experience like no other in the world for our students and teachers.
Enjoy the photos and stay tuned as our initiative to bring the 750 back begins in earnest later this summer!