Sixty-seven years ago today, the “Greatest Generation” stormed the beaches of Normandy, France and began the liberation of Europe from Hitler and Nazi, Germany. D-Day was a big risk for the Allies, because if they failed, Hitler could have gotten back on the offensive. No other nation could have massed the amount of troops and materials necessary to liberate Europe. It was truly an exceptional moment in American history.
Citizens United Productions had a great opportunity to film a decorated World War II and Normandy veteran in our latest documentary A City Upon A Hill: The Spirit of American Exceptionalism. Born in Chicago, Carmen Miceli was 17 when he joined the Army. With the permission of his parents, he volunteered for a year of military service in April of 1941. Later that year the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and America was thrust into World War II.
An infantry sergeant, Carmen Miceli says of his fellow comrades, “You got your buddies, you can’t help but bond with them and you protect each other – that’s the name of the game in the infantry.”
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In A City Upon A Hill, Carmen Miceli shares the emotional story of how a heroic act by one of his fellow soldiers saved his life. One of the members of his platoon, named Amijan Lazar, made the ultimate sacrifice: “He saved the whole squad, instead of going this way, he went that way and bumped into a machine gun, took the machine gun, knocked them out, bullets through him, he was killed. He got the Distinguished Service Cross, second from the Congressional Medal of Honor.”
The story of the selfless actions of Amijan Lazar to save his fellow soldiers is a great testament to every American soldier. Without their heroic acts, our world could have ultimately floundered in the face of tyranny.
For his service, Carmen Miceli received four Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for valor. Miceli brought the same work ethic that he learned in the United States Army back home after the war and became a very successful restaurateur. A member of the “Greatest Generation,” Carmen Miceli has lived the American dream, and his story is uniquely American. The coming great debate about whether or not America is an exceptional nation should be an open and closed case based upon what happened on June 6, 1944 alone.