June 6th. Many Baby Boomers remember this day - not because it is a day that we lived through ourselves. Rather it is a day that our parents and grandparents remembered - not in celebration - more often in quiet appreciation for the ultimate sacrifices made by many.
The anniversaries of this day often brought melancholic reflections about our country - a country once fully united and committed to overcoming the evil of Nazism. By the time that we Baby Boomers were growing up the divisions of the 60s were growing. It was hard for us to appreciate what our parents and grandparents lived through.
June 6, 1944 was a momentous day. It is the day that Allied soldiers descended on Normandy to bring the fight to the European continent to end the scourge of Hitler. I remember reading newspaper headlines commemorating the 20th Anniversary of D-Day. Back then - now some 52 years ago - most adult Americans had lived contemporaneously through some aspect of D-Day. For those Americans in uniform, over 11 million strong in 1944, even if not a part of the invasion forces there was a sense that this was the beginning of the end.
For those at America's homeland there was rapt attention to radio broadcasts and newspaper headlines. There was hope that the War would end soon. Based more in hope than reality there was talk of being in "Berlin by Christmas." We know that this was not to be. There was almost another year of the War in Europe in store for its population and bloody participants.
We now look back at D-Day - not with the eyes of our parents or grandparents - but our memories of its commemoration. Many of us remember President Reagan's 40th Anniversary speech delivered in Normandy. We can also recall 2001's moving TV Mini-Series - "Band of Brothers." It's amazing that "Saving Private Ryan" - Steven Spielberg's epic story of soldiers following the Normandy Landings is almost 20 years old.
June 6, 2016. 72 years since D-Day. The Greatest Generation is vanishing. We are left with their memories and in this year, more than most, aware that the America that they fought and died for is sadly distant from the deep and heart-fully felt divisions of today.