An 83-year-old Holocaust survivor is giving back to the American troops who liberated his French city from Nazi occupation decades ago.
Bernard Darty announced yesterday that he would be donating $1 million to organizations helping wounded US veterans, such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the Services for Armed Forces program of the American Red Cross.
The survivor wrote in a Fox News op-ed: “Since World War II, I’ve felt a deep connection to American troops for saving my life – a feeling that resurfaces every year on Veterans Day and throughout the holiday giving season.”
“Even though more than 70 years have passed since my rescue, it’s not too late to give back. That’s a lesson I hope the next generation recognizes, because it’s all too easy to let procrastination give way to inaction. But action is what brings hope to those who need it,” he added.
Darty’s Jewish parents fled from Poland to France in a bid to escape Nazi forces. Unfortunately, his family was captured and sent to concentration camps, where they later perished. 7-year-old Darty, however, survived the roundup by hiding at his aunt’s house.
For the next two years, he says he stayed hidden at other families’ houses on the outskirts of Paris. Finally, liberation arrived in the form of D-Day.
“I vividly remember the arrival of the hundreds of thousands of American troops who landed in Normandy to liberate us in June 1944. They were our saviors, doling out packets of sweets to half-starved, war-weary children who had almost given up hope for freedom.
“The gratitude I feel to these men is beyond words. They freed our country and they saved our lives. Without American troops, my family and I simply would not have existed. I think of that every time I look at our family photos.”
Darty grew up to co-own one of Europe’s largest home appliance operating out of 340 stores across three countries. In the 1990s, he and his wife started off their retirement by buying a second home in Miami, Florida where they enjoy refuge from the Parisian winters.
Now, years later, he feels spurred to give back to the country that gave him so much.
“First, Americans saved us. Then decades later, they welcomed us,” says Darty.
“That is why I want to help modern American veterans today. They pursue the tradition of the young men who landed on the shores of Normandy in June 1944 and who I will never forget. In giving this donation, I want to thank Americans with all my heart for coming to rescue us in our hour of need.”