This was the week when some of us remembered their remarkable deeds on a dark June morning 68 years ago, when the earth and time stood still and the greatest armada in history landed on the coast of France.
They’re leaving us swiftly now, dying at the rate of 800 every day, the last of the 16 million men who put on the khaki to march to the sound of the guns. Not much notice of the day was taken this year. President Obama forgot to say anything about their heroics and sacrifice. Maybe he was too busy, flying off to Hollywood to crack suggestive smutty jokes about Michelle and Ellen DeGeneres, and collecting campaign cash from a party for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Leadership Council. Even Michelle, who has lately been talking a lot about helping military families, was busy raising money in New York City and Philadelphia.
Homage to sacrificial courage has gone out of fashion in certain circles. The new World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington, a favorite of veterans, their families and everyone else, is derided for its “triumphalism.” One critic likens it to something Mussolini could have built in Rome. Another sneers at the idea of preserving “the memory of something that ripped up half the planet, killed millions of people and took six years to run its course.”
Andrew Higgins, who had fought his own war with stubborn admirals, was in Chicago when thousands rushed into Michigan Avenue to snap up extra editions of the Chicago newspapers announcing that the liberation of Europe had begun. He dispatched a telegram to be read to the gathered workers in New Orleans: “This is the day for which we have been waiting,” he told them. “Now the work of our hands, our hearts and our heads is being put to the test. We may all be inspired by the news that the first landings on the Continent were made by the Allies in our boats.”
What a day to remember.