Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sixty-five years on

Most of us can be forgiven for not fully grasping the importance of June 6th, 1944.

What's unforgivable, regardless of our age, is lacking the will to understand.

Our parents and grandparents told us the stories -- I know mine did. I was born half a generation afterward, but I knew men who fought in that war and came home bearing its scars. One of my junior-high teachers had survived the terror of Omaha Beach, his passion and purpose apparent to all who knew him.

They told their tales softly, wistfully, of fear and resolve, duty and sacrifice. At home and in service abroad, of a nation united.

In the 65 years since D-Day, through conflicts cold and searing hot, our leaders have conjured threats and tyrants designed to inspire Americans to rise as they did during World War II, and yet we've never quite matched the commitment of The Greatest Generation.

To be sure, the valor of our men and women in uniform has never diminished, never wavered. What bears remembering, however, and what we must understand, is that this nation never faced the danger it did on June 6th, 1944 -- not before and not since.

We should never, ever lose sight of that.

Above the beaches of Normandy, today 9,000 graves stand in silent testimony to the men who saved the world. We cannot overstate what they did, nor can we extend to them the full measure of honor they so clearly deserve.

All we can do, with humility and gratitude, is try to understand.