Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, arguably the most famous and certainly the most epic of amphibious invasions in history. The year 2019 seems to be one of noteworthy anniversaries, like the founding of Napster, the Rwandan genocide, the Tiananmen Square incident, the first computer network, and the Moon landing. D-Day is unique from these other historic events in that its impact had been positive, obvious, and immediate.
I first learned about D-Day when I was in the sixth-grade. My teacher explained the importance of the invasion in light of its 50th anniversary. Four years later, it was depicted with unparalleled grit and gore in Saving Private Ryan. The opening scene became famous and introduced “Omaha Beach” to my lexicon. It’s been re-created in some variation by different iterations of the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty series.
Whereas Saving Private Ryan memorably depicts the brutality of the Normandy landings, Band of Brothers and especially The Longest Day better convey the scope of the invasion, which was codenamed Operation Overlord. Over the years I’ve seen countless documentaries that have described the particulars of this monumental undertaking from various perspectives. I expect future generations to view D-Day with comparable levels of interest.
Preserving records of it will be important because the surviving participants are in their 90s and beyond. I might not be around for the 100th anniversary, let alone these nonagenarians and centenarians. Fortunately, their collective impact on history—for the better—can’t really be denied or forgotten.