Today is June 6, 2012 -- 68 years after my outfit, the 2nd Ranger Battalion, hit the beach at Normandy on what is now known as D-Day.

At that time, I was a 19-year-old private-first-class rifleman "grunt" and jumped with my buddies into the water that was up to our chests. As we waded toward Omaha Beach, we were receiving a very warm reception; the water looked as though someone was throwing pebbles all around us.

I don't know how I got to the beach alive. I was able to get off eight rounds from my M-1, and the clip flew. I had wondered what it would feel like to get hit. Then I found out. I was slammed down, hit in both thighs.

I stayed among the dead and wounded until dusk, about 10 p.m., when they put me on a boat. I spent three months in a hospital in England.

After that, I was assigned to the 10th Replacement Depot in the southern part of France. My outfit sent a driver to pick me up in Belgium, and when he dropped me off, there were so many replacements I thought it was the wrong outfit.

Anyway, my unit ended up in Bergstein, Germany, where on Dec. 8 -- eight days before the Battle of the Bulge -- I got hit again in the left thigh and was sent home.

I don't want anyone to think that I consider myself anything special. I'm speaking for my buddies who I left behind, buried in foreign soil under white crosses and Stars of David. They never got the chance that I did to raise a family and grow old in our beloved republic, whose constitution we took an oath to defend unto death.

I want you to know that there are some of us who will not forget these men and D-Day until we are dead because, as the Veterans in Defense of Liberty proclaim, "To the world they were someone, yet to someone they were the world."

One June 6, 2012, there was a half-page spread in a daily newspaper about Queen Elizabeth but not a word about D-Day. Did anyone stop to think that if it were not for those forgotten and a successful D-Day, it wouldn't be the Queen of England celebrating?

John Bakalar

Fairfield