80 years after D-Day, woman recalls her father's story at Reagan Library

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Monday, June 10, 2024
80 years after D-Day, woman recalls father's story at Reagan Library
Eighty years ago this month, Lisa Zanatta's father took part in the D-Day invasion. And 40 years ago, his legacy was honored by President Reagan.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- Army Private First Class Peter Zanatta was only 19 years old when he took part in the first assault wave to hit Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. That symbolic day set the stage for the Normandy invasion during World War II.

"It was the greatest event of his life. Talked about it all the time as we were growing up," his daughter Lisa Zanatta said.

Peter always dreamed of returning to the beaches of Normandy but died in 1976.

"It was just the stories of what he saw, what he could never forget and the dream of always going back," Lisa said. "I just felt I had to fulfill that for him."

Leading up the 40th anniversary of D-Day in 1984 Lisa wrote a letter to President Ronald Reagan telling the story of her father.

Lisa and her family were able to join President Reagan for a special ceremony in France, where her father's story would become part of the president's remarks.

"When he started and started with the first lines of my story, 'Someday Lisa, I'll go back,' it was tears everywhere," Lisa exclaimed.

During the commemoration President Reagan read from Lisa's letter.

"So many men died," he read. "I know that my father watched many of his friends be killed. I know that he must have died inside a little each time. But his explanation to me was, 'You did what you had to do and you kept on going.'"

Eighty years after D-Day, Lisa was a special guest at the Reagan Library as they remembered the fallen and the sacrifices they made.

"We need to remember that democracy can be fleeting and we have to fight for our democracy," she said.

She recalled her father's legacy and the words penned in that letter that still ring true today.

"I'll never forget what you went through, Dad, nor will I let anyone else forget," she wrote in 1984. "And Dad, I'll always be proud."