U.S. Rep. John Joyce

U.S. Rep. John Joyce

U.S. Rep. John Joyce has sensed his father’s spirit with him, in recent days, as he has prepared to represent the United States during this week’s official ceremonies for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion to be held in France.

The 13th District’s congressman will be part of a bipartisan legislative delegation taking part in the ceremony on Thursday. The trip will take place from Wednesday through Sunday, according to an announcement his office made on Monday.

Dignitaries from across the world are expected to attend the event that will commemorate the Allied invasion of Europe that eventually led to the collapse of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Joyce’s father, Bernard Joyce, was gravely injured during the Battle of the Bulge, losing the lower lobe of his left lung, kidney and spleen. After Army field doctors saved his life, Joyce was transferred to a hospital in Paris and then to England. He earned the Combat Infantry Badge, two Bronze Battle Stars and a Purple Heart.

Bernard Joyce was a D-Day+ combatant, who “most likely” came through Normandy where the D-Day invasion occurred, according to his son. He served as a rifleman in the European theater from August 1944 to June 1945.

“As I go back to Normandy, I feel like I’m taking my dad,” Joyce, a Republican from Blair County, said. “I feel like he’s watching over me as we go back.”

Joyce spoke about the visit in context of the current political divisions in the nation and capital.

“I don’t think there could be a better time in the history of the 116th Congress to do a bipartisan trip that shows unity from Congress,” Joyce said.

He also compared current times to what was happening politically in the world 75 years ago, saying, “We’re facing a big decision here in America right now. We’re facing the decision – do we want freedom or do we want socialism? And, in 1944, America was facing a similar decision – do you want fascism or do you want freedom. We sent our troops over there to fight for freedom. And I think the analogies continue.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.