Catalog Number: 2009.015.001
On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower referred to the operation as a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”
More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft were involved in the D-Day invasion, and more than 9,000 soldiers were killed or wounded. Their service was not in vain, as more than 100,000 soldiers were able to advance across Europe to eventually defeat the Axis powers.
Trempealeau County resident Kermit Brekke enlisted in the Army in 1942, shortly after the United States entered World War II. Throughout the war, Kermit saved correspondence he received from back home. After Kermit’s return, his wife made him a scrapbook containing the cards he received during the war, along with telegrams and other documents about his service. His wife also added newspaper clippings mentioning the war.
The card pictured here is from Kermit’s wife, Evelyn. Evelyn and Kermit were married at an Army training base in 1943. Shortly after their marriage, Kermit was sent to Northern Africa and then to Italy for the duration of his service. Through the Italian campaign, Kermit’s division marched north and drove the Germans out of Italy.
This card is unique because it’s not solely a card from his sweetheart — it’s also a good luck charm. The outside of the card has a four-leaf clover tied with a red, white and blue ribbon onto the front. The card states that the clover was grown in Balboa Heights, Canal Zone.
The inside of the card says: “I think about you all the while and you should know I do because you know the love Sweetheart I cherish just for you. And while you’re serving Uncle Sam I hope the CLOVER here will help to bring you Luck each day till your returning dear!”
The card is then signed “Your sweetheart Evelyn 11/2/42”
This card predates D-Day by a few years, but it still is reminiscent of this memorable period of U.S. history. Although Kermit was not directly involved on the Normandy beaches, his service as a rifleman, radio operator and repairman were critical to the Allies’ efforts.
This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on June 3, 2017.