Thomas DiLella was born about four generations removed from the June 6, 1944 Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy, yet he has a profound interest in the events and soldiers of World War II.
The nine-year-old stood in full uniform with replica weapons at his side during Saturday’s D-Day remembrance ceremony at the Zephyrhills Museum of Military History.
“This is a way of thanking the veterans who gave their lives on D-Day fighting for America,” DiLella said. “It’s really important to remember. An event like this important to adults and kids for them to learn about D-Day. “
Museum director Cliff Moffett told the crowd that dreary weather in Zephyrhills Saturday paled in comparison to what the thousands of soldiers braved when they stormed the beaches on D-Day.
“They ran about a mile across in that lousy weather trough that sand under fire to take that beach,” Moffett said. “They did it because they were told to do it and they did it without a thought.
“We have to keep on remembering those people and the veterans we have today for what they did for us. We always thank our vets. If you get a chance, thank those in uniform today. Every time they are called upon to do the job, they do it.”
World War II era vehicles were on display as were military aircraft with unformed re-enactors sprinkle throughout the museum grounds.
Marine Corps League Immediate Past Commandant Rod Rehrig sang the National Anthem to open the event and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I am so honored to be asked to do this,” said Rehrig, a staple at community events. “D-Day is a big event here at the museum. To see kids here is fantastic. I don’t know if they teach this in school any more. This event teaches them about those who risked and gave their lives to keep us free.”