By Dave Kinnamon, commentary
Every year about this time, I commemorate D-Day, and our U.S. servicemen heroes who stormed the Normandy beaches that day, by re-watching one of movie director Steven Speilberg’s masterpieces, “Saving Private Ryan.”
I vividly recall watching “Saving Private Ryan” the first time — during its initial theater release — at the Carmike Cinema house in Lawton in July 1998. I loved the movie so much, I watched it again the same weekend. Then a third and fourth time the next weekend.
I hadn’t been bitten so deeply by the movie bug since “Star Wars,” in 1977, when I was seven years old.
From the opening scene, “Saving Private Ryan” instantly became my favorite movie for all time.
Re-watching the movie every year, a few days before the D-Day anniversary, is a personal ritual with personal meaning for me.
My father’s father served in the Army infantry, entering Europe about one month after D-Day, and then fought on the continent for the remainder of the European war, which formally ended on May 8, 1945.
In my heart and spirit, as I watch “Saving Private Ryan” each year, I silently thank all the D-Day heroes — who died that day, who were wounded, who survived to fight another day, and those who have died since — and I pray each individual soul is at rest.
These men cleared the beaches my grandfather later walked on with complete security. He was lucky, his infantry division was assigned a follow-on tasking after D-Day. My father, who is a Baby Boomer born in 1946, would not have come into existence if my grandfather had been killed on June 6, 1944. And so on.
I silently thank our D-Day heroes for mustering the courage, faith and spirit within themselves to drive on against ferocious German resistance and unimaginable devastation.
I thank these heroes for having so much faith in democracy and love of country that so many gave all, so many risked all.
Today is the 64th anniversary of D-Day. The D-Day heroes are dying off by the thousands. One can figure the youngest D-Day hero might have been 15 or 16 — having lied about his age during enlistment — and is today about 80.
The oldest World War 1 veteran in the U.S. is 107, in fact he’s the only surviving Great War veteran. One can figure, even by liberal math, the last D-Day veteran will be dead within 30 years, which is a decent lick of time. I’ll be, God willing, 68 and, God willing, drawing some penance of a monthly pension from the tattered remains of the Social Security system.
The heroics of the D-Day veterans — their excellence as men — will never be forgotten. We are a patriotic country that blows bugles, forms hand salutes, raises flags and decorate veterans’ graves at appropriate times throughout the year.
Outstanding movies like “Saving Private Ryan” make doubly sure the heroes of D-Day will forever figure prominently in the American conscience.
Dave Kinnamon is online/special projects editor of the News & Eagle. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.