Today— June 6— is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the massive offensive by Allied forces in WWII to liberate France and, ultimately, all of Europe, from Nazi occupation and oppression.
The beaches and hedgerows of Normandy can seem, at times, very far from our minds. I was privileged to know a D-Day veteran from our neighborhood. Leo Ronan was a native of Newhall Street in Neponset, attended Saint Ann School, and then worked as a sheet metal tradesman until Pearl Harbor.
He joined the 101st Airborne and parachuted into France, Belgium, and Holland. He survived D-Day relatively unscathed, but then was severely wounded during the airborne invasion of Holland— Operation Market Garden. He spent his 21st birthday in a Nazi POW camp.
Leo Ronan died in 2002 at the age of 77. He raised a wonderful Dorchester family with his wife Patricia (Sullivan) and helped honor his fallen comrades as commander of the Neponset VFW Post. He was a humble hero, a strapping man well into his later years and, always, proud to be from our neighborhood.
This week let us recall the sacrifices of our neighbors who deployed to Europe and across the globe in those turbulent and terrifying years. We owe an incalculable debt to Leo Ronan’s generation, who fought to preserve democracy and self-government and defeat fascism seven-plus decades ago.