Among all the inspirational and heart-wrenching stories heard this week as we remember the events of D-Day, a couple of sweet stories caught my eye. First Lady Melania Trump connected with two World War II heroes during events in London and in Normandy. The stories are enough to make even the most stoic of observers smile.
The first story comes from the visit by President Trump and Melania Wednesday at a meet-and-greet reception after an hour-long ceremony in Portsmouth, England. 93-year-old Thomas Cuthbert was accompanied by his daughter who told reporters she warned her father to behave himself when he met Queen Elizabeth and the Trumps. She was concerned her father might “say some rather random things.”
That didn’t stop Cuthbert, a Legion of Honour recipient and resident of Elmstead Market in England, from going googly-eyed over Melania.
“Oh, she is a nice lady, isn’t she?” he remarked after shaking Melania’s hand and being thanked by President Trump. “If it wasn’t for you and if I was 20 years younger. . .”
President Trump took Cuthbert’s comments in stride and responded, “You could handle it, there’s not a question about it.” Cuthbert’s daughter specifically told her dad not to touch the Queen but, she said she thinks “he gave her a little nudge as well.”
I think for most of us, that’s a cute story. Melania Trump is a beautiful, intellligent woman who, if she were married to anyone but a Republican president, particularly Donald Trump, would be touted as a fashion icon throughout the world. The stories written about her would easily make those that were written about Jackie Kennedy pale in comparison. But, even this sweet story brought out some snark from a Trump hater writing for Elle magazine. Maybe the writer was upset because a World War II veteran said of President Trump, “he seemed one of the boys.”
The second story was of a 95-year-old American veteran at the D-Day commemoration near Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. Harold Terence met Melania before the ceremony but said he “froze” when he posed for a picture with her instead of giving her a hug as he wanted to do. He even had a bet riding on that hug. During the ceremony, Terence received the Legion of Honor medal from French President Emmanuel Macron. He enjoyed being congratulated by President Trump but it was Melania who lit him up. Melania gave him a high-five after he was awarded his medal.
He briefly met Melania on stage when they shook hands and he was later filmed reaching out for a high-five as the First Lady crossed the stage to take her seat.
‘I met Melania this trip on the stage and I sort of messed up. I bet my friend a breakfast that I would get a hug from her,’ he said.
‘We shook hands and my daughter took a picture and I froze. I wanted to put my arms around her but I didn’t. I know she would have Ok’d it. I froze and I didn’t do it. We have the picture of just me and her holding hands and then getting a high five from her.’
Terence was born and raised in the Bronx and now lives in Florida. He’s no fan of President Trump (he prefers Nancy Pelosi) but he said he respects the office of the presidency.
By most accounts, America was well-represented by President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. President Trump is receiving glowing reviews for his speeches in England and particularly in France. He even stopped and hugged a 94-year-old veteran during his speech Thursday as he spoke of Russell Pickett’s service during the landing at Omaha.
At one point during his speech the President stopped midway through to hug one of the veterans Russell Pickett, 94, who was a 19-year-old private during the landings at Omaha.
‘Russell Picket is the last known survivor of the legendary company A,’ Trump told the gathered crowds. ‘Today, believe it or not, he has returned once more to these shores to be with his comrades. Private Picket, you honor us all with your presence.’
Macron helped Pickett stand before Trump came over to give him a hug and whisper in the veteran’s ear.
‘Tough guy,’ Trump said when he returned to the podium.
This week’s ceremonies may be the last for these heroes. We are losing World War II veterans every day as they reach the end of their lives. America and all of the free world should thank them as often as we can for their service to the world. It is hard for most of us to wrap our heads around the battles and events they lived through. These little stories help to provide a little levity during an emotional week.
On the 75th Anniv. of D-Day, the world remembers the strength & bravery of our allied forces. Honored to be at Omaha Beach & Normandy American Cemetery. God Bless the vets. & fallen soldiers, they are true heroes. #DDay75thAnniversary #DDay75 pic.twitter.com/B0Vl2sBtLF
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) June 7, 2019