D-DAY: I was almost seven years old on June 6, 1944. A few of my relatives were fighting in the Pacific theater of World War Two on that day. World War Two was "our" war, for those of us in our 70s, and no global conflict since has stirred the patriotism we felt and was instilled in us via every possible medium during that time. That war permeated our thoughts in every waking hour as the enemies were then very identifiable and it was everyone's passion to make sure they didn't win. It was a different kind of war from those fought recently. We KNEW who they were as opposed to today's extremists who cowardly hide in the shadows to perpetrate their evil, deranged inhumanity and disregard for innocent lives while parading their own suicidal maniacy.
Today's live TV network feeds of aircraft over, and paratroopers landing on, Omaha Beach, was awe-inspiring to see, for yours truly, anyway, as it dredged up memories of a time when all of us were in the fight together, regardless of age. I remember food ration books, victory postage stamps and ongoing radio and movie efforts to boost our morale and honor those of the ilk who landed on Omaha Beach and everywhere we were fighting the enemy, be it in Europe, North Africa or the aforementioned Pacific. It was enriching to learn, via some of today's newscasts, General Eisenhower told everyone involved in D-Day's execution there was no Plan B regarding that historic invasion to liberate France, set the vicious Nazis into permanent retreat and turn the tide of that war into our favor from that day onward. It was also tragic to learn, via some of today's newscasts, more of our soldiers died in that 24-hour D-Day period than all our forces who have lost their lives in ten years of battle in Afghanistan. A horrific statistic, but also, in my opinion, one that illustrates the true courage and determination we, as a country and society, possessed and that proved to be an inspiration to and for the remainder of the free world.
Even for those who didn't have the privilege to "live it", watching today's ceremonies should surely help resurrect or remind us what a truly magnificent legacy those D-Day troops forged for us. Those who don't know how we thought in those days should still be inspired, in perpetuity, to wish to preserve for what they fought and died, if only out of common human decency and respect for their sacrifices. God bless them, as they surely blessed us with their selflessness.
BOB RYAN - KSTP television and radio pioneer anchorman Bob Ryan, honored in the Star Tribune a few weeks ago in a fitting post-mortem tribute/obituary was, without exaggeration, the most excellent human being I have ever had the privilege to know or call a friend. Bob invented first-class, in my opinion, and the opinion of so many who had the honor and privilege to know him. His personal demeanor was elegant, as was his delivery of the news and his commentaries. Bob also fought in World War Two. His final resting place is in Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Those who watched and listened to his newscasts and commentaries must surely be grateful he was not a war casualty. His memorial service and funeral were also as dignified as the man himself. Please pardon the sentimentality, but his many kindnesses to me, including his constant encouragement during "down" times, were too numerous to elicit here. Knowing he's gone is very difficult to acccept.
SCHOOL SHOOTINGS - Current campaign ads for Senator Al Franken include those that address his bill and concern for troubled young minds. In my opinion, it's an excellent and important step to exploring why not only young minds, but all our minds, have the capacity to "snap" to extremes of violence when provoked beyond individual maturity to think more rationally. The recent series of school shootings and killings are becoming too-constant reminders of that extreme non-thinking. In my opinion, the genesis of education in that regard should start at home, from birth onward. Every parent could execute that thought process. I think, possibly over-simplistically, THE most important teacher is The Golden Rule. Recently, the late Maya Angelou stated that thought during one of her last interviews. Paraphrasing, she stated, "Treating others as you would wish to be treated" would solve ALL the world's problems stemming from ego, power trips and greed. That thought was also echoed recently by the oldest living American, another African-American lady, who's lived well past the century-mark of life. Too bad human nature, en toto, can't embrace that simplicity as the ultimate credo for living.
Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read my geezer thoughts.