Former NFL star Donnie Edwards’ goal was to take vets back to Normandy in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day landings in France and this week that goal was accomplished.
“I am very honored and proud to bring these great men back to Normandy and also very proud to be bringing back a WWII nurse who served in triage tents, nursing our wounded men,” the 46-year-old former San Diego Chargers linebacker explained Thursday to the Chargers.com. (RELATED: Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes Dominates During Basketball Game)
A picture shared on Instagram from the day reads, “Three WWII veterans from the 29th Infantry Division standing on the bluffs above Omaha Beach this morning, June 6, 2019, exactly 75 years after the invasion.” (RELATED: 7 Minutes To Live: The Extraordinary Story Of D-Day Veteran Andy Andrews)
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“We’ve attended ceremonies, parades, visited schools, and several of our veterans will be receiving their French Legion of Honor Award,” Edwards added. “We will spend time with the vets in private settings where they are able to reconnect with each other and share memories and stories.” (RELATED: Trump Reads FDR’s Prayer At D-Day 75th Anniversary Event)
The former NFL player, with the help of his Best Defense Foundation, was able to take 16 veterans along with a combat nurse back to the shores of France to mark the day of the Allied invasion, one of the turning points of World War II.
“As the Greatest Generation comes to an end, all we have are these last few years to thank them, show them our appreciation and give them the honor they deserve.”@DonnieEdwards brought 16 veterans back to Normandy for #DDay75thAnniversary.
— Hayley Elwood (@ChargersHElwood) June 6, 2019
“It’s (been) filled with emotions of a wide range,” the former Charger shared. “There will be happy times and there will be sad memories that may be re-lived.”
“Our veterans standing in front of the Les Braves Memorial this afternoon, saluting the thousands of men who lost their lives on Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6, 1944,” a photo shared on Instagram from the Best Defense Foundation reads. “While they stood proudly, with the waves crashing in, a couple Osprey and Sikorsky VH-60N White Hawk helicopters gave us a fly by.”
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“Several years ago, I was sitting around talking with some veterans following a living history re-enactment one night and I told them I was going to Normandy,” the legendary football player shared, per Chiefs.com. “That’s when one of them said that he’d love to go back, but he couldn’t afford it. ”
“He didn’t have the money or the means,” he added. “I said, ‘Well, I’ll take you.'”
“I come from a big family, nine people, and my mom’s first generation from Mexico,” Edwards said. “Growing up, this game of football has provided me a tremendous opportunity to get educated (and) change my life financially. ”
“To play 14 years in the NFL, this platform I have from playing ball allows me to give back to the military; to serve and say thank you,” he added. “To be born in this country, I’m just truly blessed to play football and change my life.”