Sixty years ago, soldiers waited in the dark, on airfields, in barracks, aboard ships, with Normandy on their minds. The remembrance ceremonies for the 60th anniversary of D-Day yesterday included the dropping of a million poppies into the sea off the coast, and will continue later today on the beaches and at the Ranville military cemetary, with the current leaders of the Allied nations all present.
I was not around to witness it, of course; my father was only ten years old, and my paternal grandfather, as a baker in Glasgow, would have been considered exempt from service as an essential civilian worker. There was much pondering, today, on how to ensure that the next generations will be made to understand and remember the sacrifices made on and after that day, and what it meant. I don’t know: history will fade, and perhaps the specific details can be forgotten. As long as the essential lesson remains: whenever human freedom is truly threatened, as it was sixty years ago, we can not look away or stand aside.
The other main story this evening was the death of former US President Ronald Reagan. His vice-president and successor, George Bush Sr., spoke eloquently about his friendship with Reagan on camera, but did not seem unduly upset. Reagan had been ill with Alzheimer’s disease for a decade, so it hardly came as a surprise, but Bush had more important things on his mind (paraphrased):
“That it? OK? Now, turn off the cameras, we don’t need to be formal anymore… look, out on the lake, the bass are jumping!”