Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Glorious Sixth of June

I'll be leaving shortly to attend Toronto's D-Day ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square. As this is the 65th anniversary, and because people tend to like big round numbers, I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say it'll probably be well-attended. As far as big round numbers go, too, this may well be the last gasp for many of the remaining veterans - not even a lot of eighteen-year-olds are still going strong sixty-five years later.

When that day comes, I have to wonder what it'll look like, because I may have had a preview. Five years ago, on the 60th anniversary of D-Day, I attended the ceremony held at the small but powerful Peterborough war memorial. Aside from a scattering of small children and the cadets in uniform, my small group of friends and I seemed to be the only people there under the age of thirty-five.

Is this the future? An ever-smaller crowd of men and women with silver hair to acknowledge the past? How long will it be before people begin seriously suggesting that D-Day and the Second World War as a whole are no longer relevant to the modern world, and how long before other people start listening to them?

As the last veterans die, is D-Day and its lessons doomed to slide into forgotten history, into irrelevance? We've lost, I think, too much already. We can't let even that remembrance slip away. Otherwise, as I've written before, it strips the significance and meaning away from what they did; if, one day, it comes to no one (or only a very few) caring about what happened on D-Day, and all the other days of decision during all of the other wars, they lose the principles they fought for.

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