A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

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Honoring Those Who Served

Posted by: Chuck Meide in Events, LAMPosts

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An honor guard of four French jets fly overhead during the dedication of the only monument to the U.S. Navy servicemen participating in the D-Day invasion. LAMP and St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum Board member Captain Greg Streeter spearheaded the effort to establish this memorial at Utah Beach, Normandy, some 64 years after the heroic assault.

Every Veteran's Day, we at the Lighthouse are committed to fulfilling one of the most important aspects of our mission, to honor those who have served our country. As an aid to navigation and a sentinel facing the Atlantic, the Lighthouse has always had a military function, especially during times of war. During World War II, the Lighthouse served as a center of U.S. Coast Guard activity, and was manned by lookouts on guard for enemy U-boats. In recent months, another link between the Lighthouse and our WWII maritime heritage has been established, through the efforts of our Board member, retired U.S. Navy Captain Greg Streeter.

Captain Streeter not only serves on our Board but is very active within the Naval Order of the United States, the service’s oldest fraternal organization. Several years ago, a heritage tour company pointed out to members of the Naval Order that there was no monument in place at Normandy honoring members of the U.S. Navy who participated in the famed D-Day invasion. It was not long before a group within the Naval Order decided to do something about that, and this effort was lead by Captain Streeter.

"Operation Neptune was the largest amphibious operation in the history of the world. We could not believe that our Navy was not recognized for its contribution to that historic event," Streeter said. Operation Neptune was the assault phase of Operation Overlord, the name given to the liberation plan that included the Normandy landing. D-Day witnessed an extraordinary assemblage of more than 1,000 combat ships and 124,000 U.S. sailors and Coast Guardsmen determined to wrest France back from the Nazis. Eight U.S. Navy ships were sunk here, and 1,068 sailors and Coast Guardsmen died during the seaborne invasion. Roughly one-fifth of all U.S. casualties on D-Day were Navy. It was clear that a monument honoring these men's sacrifices was appropriate, and it became the largest project yet undertaken by the Naval Order.

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Greg and Anna Streeter in front of the new U.S. Navy D-Day Monument at Normandy, on the day of its dedication.

Streeter played a pivotal role in securing roughly $500,000 in private donations to ensure that a monument to U.S. Navy sailors would join others already in place at Normandy commemorating the participation of other U.S. services along with British, Danish, Polish, free French and other Allied forces. On Saturday, September 27, the monument was officially dedicated, and Captain Streeter, along with over 1000 other spectators, was on hand to witness the realization of this worthwhile effort. The dynamic bronze sculpture was created by artist Stephen Spears, and cast in Denver, Colorado. The figures are 8 feet tall, and they are positioned atop a 4-foot tall concrete pentagonal base which is rimmed with a bronze plaque listing all of the Navy vessels that participated in the Normandy invasion. The three figures--a Navy Captain issuing an order, a sailor bearing one of thousands of shells fired before and during the assault, and a member of the Navy Combat Demolition Unit responsible for clearing the beachhead of mines--represent the three phases of the Naval operation: planning and execution, implementation, and aftermath.

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We are proud of our Board member, Captain Greg Streeter, and the critical role he played in honoring the sacrifices of our Navy's servicemen during one of the most important naval invasions of all time. Please visit the official page of the United States Navy Monument at Normandy to learn more about it.

And please consider joining us this Veteran's Day evening at the Lighthouse for our annual Veteran's Day Ceremony. This is always a fabulous event and it really allows us to showcase our support and gratitude for those who are currently serving or have served in our nation's military forces. This year's keynote speaker will be Dr. Dennis Conrad of the Naval Historical Center, whose presentation will focus on the naval alliance between the nascent United States and Spain during the Revolutionary War. As we focus on the early military history of our nation, we have not forgotten that we are at present in the midst of two wars where over four thousand soldiers have answered our leaders' call and given their lives for their country, and tens of thousands more bear the permanent consequences of mortal combat. They and their families have given a priceless service for each and all of us, and for the principles that we as a nation profess. We hope you will be able to join us tonight as we honor all of these American heroes.

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