It’s been 70 years since D-Day.
On June 6, 1944, almost 150,000 troops invaded onto the beach of Normandy. Of those, 14,000 were Canadians. A lot of people died.
I was reminded of this when I stumbled across an article on The Globe and Mail website called “Then and now in pictures: 70 years later, Normandy’s beaches retain memory of D-Day invasion.”
Reuters’ photographer Chris Helgren found archive pictures taken during the invasion and returned to the same locations. Looking through the photos, there are immediate differences. The area has become a tourist location. The beaches are filled with tourists.
And yet, there is a striking resemblance. The lines of the buildings are the same as are other parts of the landscape. It’s unmistakable.
In a column I wrote for Remembrance Day on Nov. 8, 2013, Work for peace to inspire hope, I expressed my feelings about war and how best to remember those who died.
There is one thing those comparisons show more than anything and that is change and similarity. We know the world is changing. We can see it every day. It seems if you get a new smart phone, maybe a year later it’ll be the old model. Ten years ago no one could’ve imagined that we’d be able to do the kinds of things we do now.
The norm used to be phoning people to communicate. Now a lot of people text or use social media.
The invention of the Internet changed how we learn about things, how we research. No more do we spend most of our time looking things up in the library, but instead we’ll start with a quick Google search. Maybe then we’ll head to the library for something older or for more research.
Go back even further and having a television set in black and white was a novelty. Now pretty much everyone has at least one colour television. Centuries ago, no one could’ve dreamed about how we communicate or how we live or the revolutionary ideas that shape our world.
But that also holds true with the first atomic bomb in 1945. It too changed everything, but not in a good way. Just like we can’t forget D-Day and the sacrifices, we also can’t forget the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
I will always believe what I said in my Remembrance Day piece about working for peace as the best way to remember the lives lost. Some truly horrifying things have happened in our past and we’ve paid for it.
As of this moment, we are not in the middle of the Third World War, at least, not to the best of my knowledge.
Will it happen? Maybe. I hope not. I’ll never stop hoping that it won’t because if it does, it’ll probably be nuclear. And then, just like that, there go billions of lives. Most of us wouldn’t even see it coming.
But this isn’t meant to be negative. If anything, that’s all the more reason to keep talking about it and working for a better world. War, poverty, discrimination, you name it. The issues are there and only we can help eliminate them.
The comparison photos of then and now of Normandy beach showcase one thing very clearly. The world is changing around us, but some things will always stay the same.
Other things have stayed the same, but should be changed. We shouldn’t give up. We can never give up.