Remembering D-Day, 65 years later

The anniversary of D-Day is easy to miss.

For no reason other than history, June 6th lies in between the iconic patriotic summer holidays of Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Tomorrow, the 65th anniversary of D-Day will be marked in Normandy by veterans joined by President Obama, Prince Charles and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

There are thousands of D-Day stories by the soldiers who stormed the beaches and began the struggle to free Europe from Hitler’s tyranny. Scores of films through the years, most poignantly Saving Private Ryan, have chronicled the bravery men had to display to survive the horrors of the invasion.

A spectacular PBS documentary series The War by Ken Burns aired last year. For people like me born decades after World War II ended, it’s a must-see to truly grasp the depth and breadth of heroism and sacrifice at home and overseas.

As with all ceremonies, the pomp and circumstance of tomorrow’s proceedings will quickly become a footnote, as have the many which came before.

What should endure, as the veterans of that day and the Holocaust survivors they ultimately helped free continue to rapidly pass away, is the reminder that this was just not another battle to remember for a test in your 10th grade world history class.

The defeat of Nazi Germany changed the world for the better and shaped the rest of the 20th century. Its impact is still all over European politics and society today.

The tide started to turn in that direction on June 6, 1944. That is more than a footnote.

 

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