Undersecretary makes D-Day stop in Seward


To help honor the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in France, U.S. State Department Undersecretary John Bass stopped in Seward June 6.

Bass joined U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer and Pete Ricketts, State Sen. Jana Hughes and Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier at the Nebraska National Guard Museum for the program.

Bass, who hails from upstate New York, talked about the servicemen who gave their lives on the beaches of France in 1944.

“Their sacrifice allows us to continue to live in freedom,” Bass said.

After World War II, the organization of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization helped keep peace.

“We were able to endure and outlast the Soviet regime,” Bass said.

The United States was attacked again on 9/11. On Sept. 12, NATO joined in a collective defensive commitment to back the United States around the globe.

“It’s been a long, painful struggle. Those who serve alongside know the cost,” Bass said.

He said Russian president Vladimir Putin is trying to change borders by force and won’t stop until he achieves his goals. Bass said the ongoing partnership with the National Guard is helping America build a more effective military.

Remembering D-Day with events like the program in Seward “helps sustain the sense of purpose,” he said.

Fischer, Ricketts, Hughes and Eickmeier each made a few remarks about the anniversary, as well.

In an interview afterward, Fischer said she was pleased to be in Seward for the program.

“We see the importance of service to our country,” she said. “The National Guard is a huge part of that.”

She said having the museum is a treasure in Seward and encouraged everyone to visit, especially on special days like the anniversary of D-Day.

Fischer is not unconnected to the military. Two brothers served – one of the Air Force and and one in the Army Reserve, and her dad served in the Army in World War II, ending the war at Okinawa. Two uncles fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

The standing room-only event was sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Nebraska and organized by Jeff Baker. Sgt. Major (ret.) Marty Baker served as emcee, with Jon Sronce singing the national anthems of both the United States and France.

After the ceremony, Bass visited the Higgins Boat in the restoration bay. Jerry Meyer, museum historian, said Bass is the highest-ranking government official to visit the museum.

“He is a ‘four-star’ equivalent when planning a ceremony. It was a great honor to host him,” Meyer said.

Bass thanked the community for its hospitality.

“It was heartwarming to feel that friendship here in Seward,” he said.