Alaska Notebook: D-Day plus two

Thursday was June 6, the 69th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, when Allied forces led by U.S. troops invaded Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

Several readers have criticized us for not marking the day in the newspaper.

Most years we do, some we don't. We hear about it when we don't, and the words have some effect. So some years, before Pearl Harbor or D-Day, an editor will send out the reminder, "Let's get something in the paper so we don't get the calls."

It comes off as a cynical salute, unless you know better.

People working here are like the rest of Alaskans, who had fathers and mothers and grandparents who served during World War II, or in the Korean War, or the Vietnam War. Or who served in Vietnam themselves. The father of a former associate editor here was a Pearl Harbor survivor. I had an uncle who was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and a father who wasn't in the first wave at Normandy but was a Medical Corps sergeant who landed on June 9. Normandy was the beginning of his service in France, Holland, Germany and Austria. Years later we would bristle whenever he heard or read some Holocaust denier spouting nonsense.

My sister remembered one of his reactions to such a claimant on TV.

"Don't tell me that," he said. "I saw the shoes." The piles and piles of shoes of the Jewish dead.

Others here have spouses, sons, daughters, other relatives and friends who serve or have served in more recent wars, from the Persian Gulf War to Iraq and Afghanistan.

We don't forget. Neither do we try to publish rote tributes, templates empty of heart.

For the best remembrance, look outside. As I write this it's a beautiful Alaska summer day. Still spring by the calendar but summer to us. The men who landed at Normandy didn't make the beauty of the day. They helped to make sure we could enjoy it freely. Many of them carried their pride in that quietly, with words like "We did what we had to do."

For readers who miss mention of the day in these pages, keep reminding us. But please bear in mind that while we don't always print something, we never forget.

-- Frank Gerjevic

Frank Gerjevic