On Thursday, March 10, 2016 Glennie Sims spoke to the Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory. Glennie McDonald Sims is founder of NORMANDY REMEMBERS, a non-profit organization established to educate young people in the United States about the “Duty of Remembrance” felt toward American World War II soldiers and veterans in Normandy, France.
The daughter of a World War II veteran, Glennie was born and raised in western North Carolina, and graduated with from Lenoir-Rhyne University with a degree in Accounting. She grew up the daughter of a World War II veteran, but never heard him speak of the war. She was interested in his time in service, and didn’t understand why he would never speak of it. By the time her father was in his 80’s, he was ready to open up about his wartime experiences, but died suddenly without having the opportunity to express his testimony to his daughters. The lack of a “sense of closure” for her father profoundly affected Glennie’s life. She realized there must be many more WWII veterans, like her father, who for decades, had lived in silence about their war experiences. She began working with an educational tour company, taking young people to Washington DC, teaching them the importance of patriotism and appreciation of those who sacrificed for our liberty, encouraging them to approach, talk to, and thank veterans seen there, as a way to honor her father.
Later recruited by The Patton Foundation, founded by General George S. Patton’s granddaughter, Helen Patton, Glennie served as Director of their US/Normandy Remembrance Project, where she worked with schools, civic clubs, press and municipalities in France, thanking them for their diligence in continuing to honor and remember our American soldiers who took part in the Allied Invasion of Europe during World War II. As part of her responsibilities with The Patton Foundation, she also aided in the planning of some of the ceremonies and commemorations marking the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy.
Having spent much time in France, she developed good working relationships there, and people began sharing their own testimonies with Glennie. One thing was certain… the people of Normandy loved their Liberators. As time passed, a growing number of people who lived through the occupation and war began to share more personal testimonies with her and she soon began to realize veterans were not the only people who had lived in silence about their war experiences all of their lives. As time went on, more and more people began opening up about their experiences, most for the very first time, and Glennie knew something must be done to help these words be used in a meaningful way and never forgotten. To date, Glennie has collected over 800 stories.
In late 2014, Glennie founded “NORMANDY REMEMBERS” to achieve the following goals:
- To honor the sacrifice of all who fought to liberate the world from tyranny in WWII.
- To honor the people of Normandy, France, who faithfully and lovingly remember our American soldiers and veterans.
- To help WWII veterans in the United States know of the love felt for them in Europe, and aid in their return there, if they desire.
- To educate young people in America about what life was like when liberty was lost during the Nazi occupation, the huge sacrifice paid to restore liberty, and the supreme love the people there have for our American soldiers because of their sacrifices.
- To connect French students who adopt graves of American soldiers buried in Normandy with American students near the hometowns where the soldiers grew up here in America, with the goal of their cultural bridge helping them recognize importance of love, liberty and the beauty of being willing to sacrifice for something larger than ourselves. She hopes to soon expand to the entire European Theater.