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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Strikes Back: D-Day Veterans Know How Today's Troops Feel

Aired October 19, 2001 - 06:34   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: America is no stranger to war. It's World War II veterans who stormed the beaches of Normandy, who know some of what U.S. troops will face as they head into combat in Afghanistan. But they also know it's different this time.

More from CNN's Candy Crowley at the Dwight Eisenhower Observances in Abilene, Kansas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More than a century ago, a young boy was growing up here on the Kansas prairie. Later he went out and helped save the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SINGING)

CROWLEY: Dwight David Eisenhower was born October 14th, 111 years ago. He was the nation's 34th president, but that's the second paragraph on Eisenhower. The first begins Supreme Commander of the Normandy Invasion.

Meet some of his boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We represent the 195th field artillery battalion, World War II -- Normandy all the way.

CROWLEY: They came to Abilene, Eisenhower's boyhood home, to be part of the birthday observances at the Eisenhower Center.

(MUSIC)

D-Day started with three words from General Eisenhower -- "OK, let's go," and they went.

CROWLEY: You feel like you're going to go out and save the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't think too much about it until we were all in line to get on the boat. I walked around the building and there was the gangplank -- and about a quarter of a mile, by then it soaked in.

CROWLEY: The gravity of what was ... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That you was going somewhere.

CROWLEY: Now they watch others to go somewhere -- old warriors with a new war on their minds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew who our enemy was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we don't now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (CROSSTALK) our enemy now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't.

CROWLEY: Everything has changed since they followed Ike into battle -- everything except perhaps what it must be like to be young, far from home, facing the dangerous and the unknowable.

Can you get back to that point where you took off for some place you maybe not have heard of before? What was that like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well you don't think anything about it. You have a job to do, and we did it. You know, we didn't think about getting killed or anything like that. We had a job to do, so we did it.

CROWLEY: Someone once wrote, there aren't any great men. There are just great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet. For the record, the greatest generation believes completely in this one.

Do you all have faith this effort is going to win?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yes.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to take time. The public needs to recognize we've got an unforeseen enemy and it's going to take a long time, and my old buddies and special forces are going to be in right now.

CROWLEY: Candy Crowley, CNN, Abilene, Kansas.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Those guys almost sound like they're ready to go back right now themselves.

PHILLIPS: Yeah it does -- they don't lose that fighting spirit.

HARRIS: Sure don't. All right.

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