By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Whether you’re seeing the latest superhero action flick, or date night romantic comedy, an evening at the theater is an experience beyond just the movie.

And one particular film at the Showplace Icon on June 5 showcased a humbling history lesson of the sacrifice so many made on June 6, 75 years ago.

The movie theater was one of many across the country showing “Saving Private Ryan” in honor of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces invaded France in June 1944 and ultimately turned the tide of World War II.

Navy veteran Andy Johnson came to the theater with his father Dave, an Army veteran.

“Just tremendous. I think we need to remember those guys,” Andy Johnson said.

“Saving Private Ryan” is known as one of the most realistic war films ever made. It opens with a dramatic, and at times horrific, depiction of the Normandy beach invasions on D-Day.

“You look at all these guys that gave sacrifices for their country, never really had a chance to live like you and I did. They just got killed or wounded,” Dave Johnson said. “It’s always heartbreaking for me to see these things.”

Dave Carlson of Edina saw the movie when it premiered in 1998. He came back to see it again.

“It’s interesting to look at the guys and see how young they are, and imagine the real guys who went through this not knowing what they were getting into, not understanding the full totality and scope, yet they carried that responsibility, that sense of duty,” Carlson said.

Thousands of Allied soldiers died on that fateful day, often remembered through black and white photos. Steven Spielberg’s award-winning film recreated those images into a cinematic experience that once again hit the silver screen.

Linda Haight had never seen the movie, but got a ticket to better understand what her father and so many more went through.

“He was in the Army. He was in the Germany area. I think it was 69th battalion, and what I’ve read about that is they were the ones that came across the concentration camps,” Haight said. “I’ve been to Normandy and seen, I’ve been there, the big craters in the ground. It’s very moving.”

Much like the movie she was about to witness for the first time, giving her a glimpse into the past, and a reminder to be thankful for their service.

“Greatest generation,” Haight said. “We got to remember those guys.”

Jeff Wagner

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