Sand collected for soldiers’ graves

CRYSTAL FALLS (AP) – Children at an Upper Peninsula Michigan elementary school have collected sand to scatter on the graves of American troops killed in the D-Day landing at Normandy during World II.

The fourth-graders at Forest Park Elementary in Crystal Falls have studied the June 4, 1944, Allied landing on the French coast, in which 29,000 Americans died.

Brenton Houle said he learned that many soldiers didn’t make it to safety as they tried to land amid heavy fire. He said they were “scared of dying” or that their “friends would be gone.”

They collected sand wherever they could find it. Graci Varoni got it from the sandbox.

Marching band members from Stevensville in lower Michigan perform during D-Day’s 70th anniversary ceremonies and plan to scatter the sand on the graves.