Calvert graduate Nate Kirian joined 28 World War II veterans from the United States at the 70th D-Day anniversary celebration in Normandy June 6.
Kirian, who lives in ClermontFerrand, France, with his wife and three children, was invited to join the veterans as part of The Greatest Generations Foundation. The non-profit organization is supported by Kirian's employer, Michelin, and offers World War II veterans the opportunity to return to their battlefields at no cost to them.
"It was an amazing experience," Kirian said.
Nate Kirian poses with World War II veteran Joe Reilly on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Reilly, 93, was a 101st Airborne paratrooper who landed in Normandy the morning of June 6, 1944.
He said the highlight of his day was the time he had on a bus with the veterans, most of whom were on Utah or Omaha beaches June 6, 1944. Several other veterans were bomber pilots, Kirian said.
"These guys were just amazing. To have the opportunity to spend the day with those guys and to have that much time with them on the bus it was a priceless experience," Kirian said.
He said on the bus ride, he tried to sit with each veteran and listen to them recount D-Day.
"To hear them describe things they did and saw, it was just amazing," he said. "It's hard to describe just how humbling and interesting it was."
"He said it was just unbelievable the stories the veterans had," said Tiffin resident Marge Kirian, Nate's mother. "He had a fabulous experience."
Nate Kirian, a 1992 graduate of Calvert, has lived in France for two years working at the global headquarters of Michelin. He said he had visited Normandy with his wife and children, but being there on June 6 for the 70th anniversary of D-Day was something he won't forget.
There was an abundance of American flags and several people were wearing American flags. The French were even dressed up like American soldiers and United States Army vehicles from the 1940s were on the streets.
"You cannot even imagine the number of American flags flying in Normandy," he said.
At a morning ceremony, Kirian shook hands with U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, and later, he attended the international ceremony on Sword Beach where attendees included Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Russian President Vladimir Putin. At that ceremony, he sat in the stands with the veterans.
"These guys are truly heroes to the utmost sense of word," Nate Kirian said of the veterans. "I'm worried we don't take enough time to talk to them back home. These are such amazing accomplishments they did."