During this weekendâ€™s D-Day remembrance ceremony, President Obama urged us not to forget those who fought for our freedom and what they managed to achieve.
Many estimate we are losing as many as 1,200 WW II veterans every day in America alone. But thereâ€™s no reason we have to lose their stories. For those of us with parents or grandparents who fought in WWII, itâ€™s up to us to not let that war and its sacrifices drift into distant memory and mythology.
Iâ€™ve lived my life surrounded by stories of WW II, whether itâ€™s personal stories about my grandfathers who both served in the Air Force, a college professorâ€™s tale of escaping the Nazi invasion of Austria and then Poland or even just the biographies of the political leaders whoâ€™ve served in office during my lifetime: George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, Jimmy Carter. Even though I was born 30 years and a few months after D Day, WW II never seemed all that long ago.
But now it is long ago. Soon there will be WW II remembrances with only a handful of veterans, or none at all. Soon, the only breathing link between our world and the world of the 1930s and 1940s will be through those of us whoâ€™ve heard the stories first-hand, who knew the very real people who served both at home and abroad.
We may call them the Greatest Generation or the WW II generation, but many of us just called them Mom or Dad or Grandma or Granddad. We know they were just human, no more or less flawed than we are, no more or less brave. And thatâ€™s what makes what they achieved all the more extraordinary. All the more worth remembering.
In memory of Henry Casey Carl. 1925 â€“ 2009.