[Guest post by DRJ]
I started today with a post entitled Remembering D-Day so I’ll end it by noting President Obama and the White House apparently did not remember D-Day — because I can’t find any mention of D-Day at his official website or in Politico’s coverage of his activities today.
Last year on the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, President Obama went to Normandy and spoke about D-Day’s importance then and for the future. Here is an excerpt from his 2009 D-Day remarks, just 365 days ago:
“I’m not the first American President to come and mark this anniversary, and I likely will not be the last. This is an event that has long brought to this coast both heads of state and grateful citizens; veterans and their loved ones; the liberated and their liberators. It’s been written about and spoken of and depicted in countless books and films and speeches. And long after our time on this Earth has passed, one word will still bring forth the pride and awe of men and women who will never meet the heroes who sit before us: D-Day.
Why is this? Of all the battles in all the wars across the span of human history, why does this day hold such a revered place in our memory? What is it about the struggle that took place on the sands a few short steps from here that brings us back to remember year after year after year?
But despite all the years of planning and preparation, despite the inspiration of our leaders, the skill of our generals, the strength of our firepower and the unyielding support from our home front, the outcome of the entire struggle would ultimately rest on the success of one day in June.
Lyndon Johnson once said that there are certain moments when “history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom.”
D-Day was such a moment. One newspaper noted that “we have come to the hour for which we were born.” Had the Allies failed here, Hitler’s occupation of this continent might have continued indefinitely. Instead, victory here secured a foothold in France. It opened a path to Berlin. It made possible the achievements that followed the liberation of Europe: the Marshall Plan, the NATO alliance, the shared prosperity and security that flowed from each.
It was unknowable then, but so much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only six miles long and two miles wide.”
Speaking before French President Sarkozy and other foreign dignitaries, President Obama concluded his 2009 speech with the admonition that we should never forget D-Day:
“I know this trip doesn’t get any easier as the years pass, but for those of you who make it, there’s nothing that could keep you away. One such veteran, a man named Jim Norene, was a member of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Division of the 101st Airborne. Last night, after visiting this cemetery for one last time, he passed away in his sleep. Jim was gravely ill when he left his home, and he knew that he might not return. But just as he did 65 years ago, he came anyway. May he now rest in peace with the boys he once bled with, and may his family always find solace in the heroism he showed here.
In the end, Jim Norene came back to Normandy for the same reason we all come back. He came for the reason articulated by Howard Huebner, another former paratrooper who is here with us today. When asked why he made the trip, Howard said, “It’s important that we tell our stories. It doesn’t have to be something big; just a little story about what happened — so people don’t forget.”
So people don’t forget.
Friends and veterans, we cannot forget. What we must not forget is that D-Day was a time and a place where the bravery and the selflessness of a few was able to change the course of an entire century. At an hour of maximum danger, amid the bleakest of circumstances, men who thought themselves ordinary found within themselves the ability to do something extraordinary. They fought for their moms and sweethearts back home, for the fellow warriors they came to know as brothers. And they fought out of a simple sense of duty — a duty sustained by the same ideals for which their countrymen had once fought and bled for over two centuries.”
Until today, that is. Unless President Obama remembered D-Day at his Ford Theatre appearance tonight, an appearance that will be telecast in July in celebration of our nation’s independence, then it seems he forgot about D-Day this year.