D-Day: the world remembers

We’ve all heard the saying in some form: “To understand where you’re going, you must first understand where you’ve been.”

Take ancestry, for example. A while back I sent in a DNA sampling kit and, while what I’d heard all my life was partly correct, there were some surprises: Not only was I half French, but more than 60 percent. And along with the known Danish and sprinkling of Irish, there were also Scottish, Dutch and even some Norwegian.  It fascinates me to know where my ancestors came from and what I might have inherited from them.

Understanding where we’ve been applies to the world stage, also, and in this week laden with history it is crucial.

Yesterday, June 6, 2019, marked the 75th anniversary of the World War II D-Day invasion, an event which ultimately became the turning point of that war to the Allies’ favor. About 4,400 Allied troops died in the storming of Normandy’s beaches that day.

When the D-Day Squadron of C-47 aircraft visited Presque Isle on May 19, it was astounding to see the crowd. From the very young who would have no memory of these events, to veterans who knew them all too well, everyone mingled on the tarmac near the Presque Isle International Airport to listen to the pilots’ accounts, learn the stories of the aircraft and, literally, touch a wing of history.

That squadron left The County for Europe to participate in events calling to mind the horror and ultimate victory of that day 75 years ago. Along with “reports” from a furry mascot Teddy bear, a gift from the Presque Isle Historical Society, which lent a lighthearted air to the endeavor, there have been flyovers, parachute jumps, wreaths laid and many memories shared by veterans who lived through that day, comrades recounting triumph and tearing up with stories of what they experienced and of those who didn’t come home.

News reports have shown us the emotion on the faces of men, most now in their 90s, who were part of that invasion. We have seen the rows of silent, white crosses on a Normandy field, each bearing an American and a French flag, reminders of the Allied forces who united to save the world from Nazi horror.

Every generation must understand that countries around the world banded together to speak out against inhumanity. Soldiers flew, jumped, and charged with their lives in the balance to stand for human freedom.

That is where we’ve been. We live as we live today because of so much hard-won victory.

Anyone who doesn’t feel this sentiment deeply should learn more until they do.  

Paula Brewer is the assistant editor for weeklies, TheCounty.ME and FiddleheadFocus.com at Northeast Publishing, a division of Bangor Daily News. She can be reached at pbrewer@bangordailynews.com or (207) 764-4471.

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