Again, I would like to thank the folks who have thrown some money into the online donation bucket during our annual fundraiser. It is very much appreciated, welcome, and will be put to good use. We are 50 percent to our goal after the first week of the fundraising drive. Fingers crossed, the remaining gap can be quickly closed, and I can then turn off my NPR fundraising voice in the upcoming week.
Today is the 71st anniversary of the Allies' assault, and successful landing, known as the "D-Day" invasion of Fortress Europe during World War 2.
I was going to offer up a quick weekend post on the African-American veterans of the D-Day landing--men who have been thrown down the memory hole by White America's mythmaking machine.
Today is also the day when I "celebrate", i.e. commemorate my father's passing to the great beyond.
I sat down to do some sharing, then I remembered that I had already written a similar piece in the year before. Writing online is a type of exercise in curating and journaling.
There is several years of content here on WARN and Chaunceydevega.com
One of my ongoing tasks is converting some of that material for a book project.
[I have had several inquiries. None have been a good fit. One inquiry was with a major commercial publisher and our visions were not aligned. Who knows, maybe that request will go out through these Internets and an agent or editor from a press will email back with an inquiry and thoughts on the matter.]
It has been quite a journey--one that continues to this day.
When we are going through stressful moments other more obvious coincidences can be forgotten or misplaced in our memories.
At the time of his death, I did not realize--and for several years afterwards--that my father's mortal departure also coincided with the (then) 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
He was a World War 2 combat veteran who "passed" in order to be in a unit with "friends" from his neighborhood. I think it makes for a better story to remind myself that he had to pay the boatman a bribe to cross the River Styx for the journey to the afterlife on the anniversary of D-Day--as opposed to the sort of liminal, wishy washy observation that he died the week before Father's Day.
In the hagiography fueled American Exceptionalism remembrances of D-Day this weekend, and the flat Hollywood Clinton era pop culture notion that there is a cohort rightfully called "The Greatest Generation", it would behoove us to also remember that the men and women who fought World War 2 were also human beings.
The Greatest Generation was flawed. They were not divine giants, Nephilim, or half-breed Titans. Many, if not most of them, were racists who supported Jim and Jane Crow. There were millions of the Greatest Generation who benefited from the G.I. Bill and VA/FHA housing programs while black and brown veterans were denied those same fruits and benefits of citizenship as earned through military service. Of course, many World War 2 veterans took their experiences from the military and worked to make the United States a more egalitarian society.
Like so many other important and memorialized events, the (white) American public memory of D-Day is also processed through the white racial frame. The defeat of the Axis powers by the Allies in World War 2 was a multiracial, multi ethnic, international project. White Americans did not defeat the Nazis; All Americans helped to defeat the Nazis and their allies.
In all, the anniversary of D-Day should be much more than an obligatory viewing of war porn like Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. Instead, it should be a moment of simultaneously memorializing and giving respect to the soldiers of World War 2, while also discussing how their victory helped to create the present. This includes the good (a multiracial democracy) as well as the bad (how the State created suburbia, and in doing so, further stratified wealth and income opportunities by race).
While many on the White Right would like to deny said reality, the events of D-Day and World War 2 are the history and birthright of all Americans.