Memorial Day: Fateful D-Day Pulls Survivor Back to Normandy

It was an emotional experience for everyone. "He has told me several stories about D-Day and his other experiences during World War II," said 12-year-old Liam, who has studied the war in school, and always wears his great-grandfather's dog tags. "These include the Battle of the Bulge and stories about his friends and how they were affected, too."

Before going to France, Liam, whose family lives in Costa Rica, said he was slightly concerned that the trip might prove painful for his great-grandpa. "I'm a little worried that if he sees a spot where something emotional happened, like where a friend died, he'll become sad," Liam said. "I don't want him to be sad on this trip."

While the visit was clearly emotional, Harper said he was moved by how grateful and respectful people were, lining up to thank him and shake his hand

But the most memorable part was the lowering of the flag in cemetery for Americans, with its nearly 9,400 gravestones perfectly aligned above the beach. "It was so powerful," he said. "I was overwhelmed."

Peg said she understood why her husband wanted to go back: "For his Sergeant John Brown Weaver who was killed on the beach, and his other buddies," she said. "And to show Liam what it was like for him. I knew it would be a healing experience."

The Harpers were also grateful to be able to share the experience with their family.

As Peg put it, "When I saw Riley searching for seashells at the same beach where his great-grandfather had been on D-Day, I thought, I would have never dreamed this day would be possible and that we would be here to see it."

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