I came into school today, on a Saturday, to start packing up my room for a move to another room.
But it is the 6th of June.
Instead I am getting nothing done, mesmerized by the scenes, live from Normandy, of the 65th anniversary celebration.
The President is there and so are 250 American veterans of the battle for Normandy, including one of my good friends, Buster Simmons, of the 30th Infantry Division. The Greatest Generations Foundation sponsored his visit with 9 other vets and college kids. Now I’m looking for him in the sea of faces.
My son Ned and I watched him last night as a “Person of the Week” on ABC World News in a story I contributed to. If you view the clip, you can see the photograph I provided ABC with, taken by Major Clarence Benjamin, of the liberation of the train. This is the photo that Buster uses when he speaks to high school classes to tell this story.
I am hopeful that we can get Buster to come to our high school for the liberator-survivor reunion in September.
It was twenty five years ago, on this anniversary, that I wrote an essay in the local newspaper expressing my appreciation for the veterans of World War II. And as I begin to sort through and pack up 20+ years of memories in this room, three things are becoming clear: 1) my love for these men and women and what they did only increases as time passes; 2) the rest of my career will be focused on the promotion of narrative history in the classroom, linking students, veterans and survivors together; and 3) I won’t be getting any packing done this day.
Take a minute to watch Buster in the clip and take his optimism about the future of our nation to heart. Especially if -”you’re an American.”