One by one, D-Day memories fade as war’s witnesses die

PARIS (AP) — One more funeral, one less witness to the world’s worst war.

Bernard Dargols lived almost long enough to join the celebrations next month marking 75 years since the D-Day, 75 years since he waded onto Omaha Beach as an American soldier to help liberate France from the Nazis who persecuted his Jewish family.

Just shy of his 99th birthday, Dargols died last week. To the strains of his beloved American jazz, he was laid to rest Thursday at France’s most famous cemetery, Pere Lachaise.

An ever-smaller number of veterans will stand on Normandy’s shores on June 6 for D-Day’s 75th anniversary. Many will salute fallen comrades from their wheelchairs. As each year passes, more firsthand history is lost.

Four weeks from now, U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders will pay homage to the more than 2 million American, British, Canadian and other Allied forces involved in the D-Day operation on June 6, 1944, and the ensuing battle for Normandy that helped pave the way for Hitler’s defeat.

Dargols outlived most of them, and knew the importance of sustaining their memory.

“I’m convinced that we have to talk about the war to children, so that they understand how much they need to preserve the peace,” he wrote in a 2012 memoir.

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