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Price of Freedom museum honors 75th anniversary of D-Day

By Liz Moomey
liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

CHINA GROVE — To honor those who sacrificed their life, The Price of Freedom museum in China Grove looked back 75 years ago to remember D-Day.

On June 6, 1944, the U.S. and its allies invaded Normandy to liberate France, which was under control of Nazi Germany. Staff of the museum told stories of the more than 130,000 soldiers from that day and thanked those who didn’t return home.

The D-Day remembrance kicked off with a story of John J. Pender, who was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor. Don Shupe told attendees that Pender was tasked with carrying a vital radio to the beach. Despite being hit several times, he continued to bring communication devices to the troops on shore. The third time he was hit he was killed, but he had established communication at the site.

Shupe led a presentation of the history of D-Day showcasing items like the gear the soldiers had to wear and a sharp piece of shrapnel. He spoke of the day, which he described as horrendous. That June 6 day soldiers had to wade in the sea due to poor weather condition and made their way to the beach to cross 400 yards with the German artillery shooting at them. The first division had a casualty rate of 90%.

“They had pretty much considered the invasion a failure in the first few hours,” Shupe said.

Robert Ward, of Mooresville, visited the museum Saturday and watched Shupe’s presentation. The casualty rate took him by surprise.

“It was a battle just getting out of the water,” Ward said.

Shupe said he likes the individual aspect of the war, telling others stories to explain what it was like to live through it. He teaches fifth-grade classes that come to the Price of Freedom museum, saying people are forgetting history and not understanding the sacrifices that were given up. He described that many of the soldiers were 19 to 22 years old and about 140 to 150 pounds, and typically carrying at minimum 85 pounds.

Shupe said the soldiers were thinking if they didn’t do their job then it could mean the life or death of the man to the left or right of them. Shupe said he thinks some 19-year-olds today don’t understand what it’s like to make those sacrifices.

Ward said despite seeing footage and documentaries about World War II, the event was in-depth of what it was like being on the beach that day.

Bobby Mault, the founder of the museum, wants to keep the history of D-Day alive.

“I want to keep this alive,” Mault said. “I pray and pray it will last.”

Mault said when he was a kid, his brothers went to serve in World War II. Three, at one point, were missing in action, but thankfully they all returned home. He recalled when he was age eight to 12 waking up in the middle of the night to his parents crying about their missing sons. Mault planned to serve, but he never got the letter. Instead he thinks God had the Price of Freedom Museum planned for him to honor those that served.

“The Lord had this in mind,” Mault said. “That’s the reason I’m so close to this. He saved me for this.”

Mault said the museum wouldn’t have been possible without the volunteers. The museum is also filled with donated items, including more than 1,000 uniforms. Volunteer Bobby Harrison said 90% of items in the museum come from within 10 miles of the museum.

Ward, who serves in the N.C. National Guard, said he was interested in how different the style of uniform is from his own.

Brandon Davidson, of Salisbury, considers himself a history buff. A teacher informed him of the D-Day Remembrance event. He also enjoyed seeing the uniforms and knowing they were wearing while servicing.

For more information about the Price of Freedom museum, call 704-857-7474 or visit www.priceoffreedom.us.

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