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June 6: D-Day and RFK

This Friday is June 6, certainly an important day in world history, and particularly our nation's history.

Friday, June 6, is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the massive Allied invasion to oust Hitler's Germany from Western Europe. Maybe no other day in our nation's history, militarily, was more important. A crushing defeat there may have prolonged the war for years, or worse. Instead, it was a victory, uplifting proof of Allied military superiority and, more importantly, of Allied determination to win the war regardless of cost and sacrifice, something Hitler had always underestimated. Less than a year later, the war in Europe was over.

D-Day is rightly honored every year, and with more aplomb during the special anniversary years. The coverage and celebration in 1994, the 50th anniversary of the D-Day, was excellent, a shining moment for the media. Hopefully that coverage powered through the "electronic noise" to impart the importance of D-Day, and the "Greatest Generation," to younger generations. Remember George H. Bush, the affable former president and World War II veteran, taking a parachute drop in 2004 in honor of the day and turning 80? Greatest generation, indeed.

Friday, June 6, is also the 46th anniversary of the death of Bobby Kennedy, shot three times with a .22 handgun moments after winning the California Democratic Primary in 1968.

His was the third of the three major American assassinations of the volatile 1960s, and because he had only touched the surface of his promise and potential — unlike JFK and MLK, who were given just enough time to accomplish so much — his death in ways was the most tragic.

Politically, June 6, 1968, marked the end of that decade. What became the seventies national political landscape emerged: Richard Nixon's election in '68 and landslide re-election in '72, the mid-decade Watergate debacle and subsequent pardoning, and in those twin wakes the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter.

It's intriguing to consider how the decade, and our nation today, would have been different had Robert Kennedy lived, and won the presidency. The war in Vietnam might have ended before the sixties did as ending the war was a major RFK campaign plank.

It is, at best, conjecture to outline what would have been different had RFK lived and become president. He was but 42 when he died. But no doubt the spirit, the energy and the vision for our nation would have been far different from what the seventies wrought. The stolen promise was the nation’s tragedy.

June 14 is Flag Day in the United States, marking the date in 1777 that the Continental Congress passed the resolution adopting the flag. Not that we need to move Flag Day to it, but there are few dates more important to the history of the people living under that flag than June 6.



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