1. Papa Jake and Granddaughter McKaela who started the TikTok for him and catapults Jake to
celebrity status. 2. Normandy, 80th Anniversary D-Day Celebration with U.S. restored WWII military equipment. 3. Paratrooper attack re-enactment. 4. French fans rush to meet Jake Larson

Papa Jake Larson, Martinez, was virtually a forgotten veteran up until 2019, when he decided to attend the 75th D-Day Celebration in Normandy to pay homage to his comrades who died storming Omaha Beach.
The 10-day D-Day celebration there is extraordinary with re-enactments, flyovers, church bells ringing, sirens, refurbished equipment and soldiers dressed in American military apparel. Notable speakers included French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, and President Joe Biden. Each were personally honored to shake hands with Papa Jake and other Veterans.
Particularly impressive is the admiration the people of France expressed towards Papa Jake, and the Veterans. They cheered and chanted his name; they wanted to meet him and touch him. Many knew of Papa Jake due to his “Storytime with Papa Jake,” on TikTok, which has close to 900,000 followers.
I spoke with Fabienne Ory, of Normandy, who attended this year’s 80th anniversary celebration. She and her family met Jake for the first time.
“I am not registered on TikTok, so I didn’t know Jake before this year. I heard about him in a report on American veterans on the French channel in May,” Ory says. “How is it possible that we didn’t know of him earlier? He is so fabulous.” 
Other attendees were equally enamored.
“We all had the same feeling: admiration, respect, recognition. People were really happy to see the veterans. Jake was very nice and warm to all the people. His story, his kindness, it moved people.
The day before he left Normandy, Jake was interviewed on a Normandy channel. I remember Jake’s words: ‘Forget negativity!’ 
“He gives us a lesson in life. In these difficult times, it restores confidence and hope.
“Thanks, Papa Jake. Thanks to his family for sharing his history with us. Thanks to all the veterans. Thanks to those who have died for freedom.
“American people, take care of them, and take the time to talk to them. We have too little time to spend with them. 
“I hope to see them one more time in Normandy. I will always keep their memory.”

France has love for Americans and our Papa Jake.

Fly over Omaha Beach just one of many spectacles performed
over the 10-day D-Day celebration in Normandy.