The medals that nations award the men and women who defend them are only a small token of recognition for sacrifice and courage beyond normal human experience. The meaning imparted by these symbols, however are most understood by those who earn them. Recently, a British man who fought at the invasion of Normandy lost several medals that he had been awarded for his part in that action. Now, he has been given replacement medals, and you will not believe how grateful he is until you watch this video.
Alfred Barlow is ninety six years old and legally blind. On June 6, 1944 he landed on the beaches of Normandy along with forty five thousand allied soldiers. For his part in that historic conflict, he was awarded four medals: the 1939-1945 Star, the France and Germany Star,the Palestine medal, and the 1939-1945 War medal.
On june 8 of this year, he stopped into a restroom at Norton Canes Services just off the M6 highway in Walsall, England. While he was in the restroom, his medals went missing. When England heard of his loss, the nation stood with him. A reward fund was set up and raised over five thousand British pounds. Acclaimed actor Hugh Grant even donated another one thousand pounds for the reward.
While no tips have led to the return of the medals or the capture of those involved in their disappearance, the British government decided to reissue his awards.
At a ceremony last week in Hampton Court, in London, he received the replacement medals.
Speaking at the event, Barlow said “I am overwhelmed by the attention I have received over these missing medals.It’s amazing that Hugh Grant, who I’ve never met in my life, offered a £1,000 reward for the return of the medals, and other people have also offered smaller sums. I’m very grateful for all the attention that has been afforded me today.”
His wife stood beside him as the presentation progressed. The awards were presented by a representative from the organization Blind Veterans UK during the Hampton Gardens Palace Flower Show.
Barlow is looking forward to leaving his medals to his grandson.
In June of 1944 the western coast of continental Europe was protected by the Atlantic Wall. This feat of German military engineering created fortifications that stretched from Denmark to the Spanish-French border. Bristling with heavy cannons, machine gun emplacements, concrete bunkers, barbed wire fences, booby trapped beaches, and divisions of German soldiers, this series of fortifications was commanded by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, and many on both sides believed it to be all but impenetrable.
However, on June 6, 1944, the single most sophisticated invasion plan in history was put into motion. Norman Barlow was one of the over forty thousand brave young men to charge head first into history that morning. He and his brothers in arms effectively turned the tide of the greatest conflict in human history on that day. From that point on, Adolph Hitler and his regime would remain on the defensive, and finally watch as their “Thousand Year Reign” ended after only twelve years.
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