Today is the 62nd anniversary of D-Day – the first day of the Allied invasion of Normandy (codenamed Operation Overlord) in 1944. It culminated, less than three months later, in the liberation of Paris and eventually in the victory of the Allies over the Axis powers on 8 May 1945, ending World War II.
When people my age and older speak or hear the phrase “the war,” it still means World War II to us. There have been Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the current Iraq War and dozens of military skirmishes in between. But “the war” is our war and it colored everything about our childhoods, even those of us who were too young to have strong memories of the war years themselves.
I was only four years old when the World War II ended, but I have little flash pictures in my mind of blue and red ration stamps, blackout curtains, letters from Daddy who fought in the Philippines and New Guinea, and that there was no chewing gum available then except what Daddy sent from overseas in those letters.
Habits of the war years hung on throughout much of the rest of my childhood. We recycled food tins for a long time after the metal was no longer needed for the war effort, and continued to hold paper drives too. Those practices faded sometime in the 1950s until, decades later, they were resurrected for environmental reasons.
Aside from the fact that is important to remember, there would be no reason to mention D-Day at TGB except that for the rest of my life, the 6th of June will also be the day I left Manhattan for a new home in Portland, Maine. I didn’t plan it to coincide with the military anniversary, but it pleases me that such an historical marker will from now on be personally important for another reason too.
I’m driving off this morning in my little red car 37 years, one month and 29 days since I arrived in New York in 1969. I couldn’t tell you why and it is kind of silly, but it seemed important this morning to work that out that length of time on the calendar.
See you soon – from Maine.