Today was the 70th anniversary of the massive invasion of Europe on the beaches of Normandy by the Allied forces. As a movie guy, I note that there have been a few attempts to capture the carnage of those first few hours, while not always showing the relentless surge from the sea that finally overwhelmed the Germans. Saving Private Ryan comes close. As an armchair student of history, I note that most Americans focus on Ohmaha Beach, without knowing much about places called Juno and Gold. Of course, for too many Americans, I suspect other Allied countries rarely enter into their thoughts.
It seems to me sometimes that at least officially, the Europeans observe these things differently, with more reverence. Which seems reasonable since half of WW II happened over there. Or maybe it's us. It's 70 years past 1944. It's 150 years since 1864. I thought that we'd be seeing a lot more coverage of the Civil War over this five year period.
But we're talking WW II here.
-- The vets are getting old. There is expected to be a large drop off in participation in five years for the 75th anniversary. Some of the vets who have gone to many of these commemorations are saying their goodbyes.
-- I've seen at least one or maybe two stories of 93-year-old paratroopers making a jump in full kit, one more time. The one photo was pretty iconic, even with the lit cigarette hanging from the lips. I've seen such a cutback in smoking that 1944 seems a long way away. And the gear still seems more familiar than some of the current American ground forces. 70 years is a long way technologically speaking. And I am an observer, not a veteran.
-- Also this week, the last of the original Navajo codetalkers from the Pacific Theatre has died. When the last of the WW II veterans goes, will our memory continue to fade? Will we see a surge in WW II reenactments? I don't know.
Anyway. Some people noticed the anniversary. There were official recognitions over in France. It's June, summer is coming. And life goes on.