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What Started This?

Rick in Normandy Rick Crandall
KEZW Station Manager
Breakfast Club Host
For The Rocky Mountain News
July, 2000

Much has been written lately about veterans. Hardly a day goes by that you don't see a tribute being covered on the television, in the newspaper or on the radio. At KEZW we recently broadcast the first ever live radio program from the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. Memorials are being dedicated, books are written, museums are opened and as a nation we just can't seem to find enough ways to pay the American men and women who fought, and in many cases died for liberty. On veterans Day this year ground will be broken for the National World War II Memorial in Washington DC. On D-Day, June 6th, doors were opened on the National D-Day museum in New Orleans, Louisiana; and just a couple of weeks ago the city of Broomfield got into the act, dedicating a memorial to the U.S.S. Indianapolis. One of it's citizens was a survivor of that ship's sinking 55 years ago. Why all the special attention now? Because time is running out to do it while our nation's war veterans are still alive.

It has been over 50-years now since the Korean War started and over 25-years since the end of the Vietnam War. With the exception of the brave men and women who fought in the Persian Gulf War, our nation's war veterans are aging, and leaving us. The Veterans Administration tells us that between 1000 and 1200 WWII veterans die each day and with them we lose the history and spirit of a generation that bonded together to save the world.

On Memorial Day, May 29th, 2000, my wife Diane and I had the good fortune to visit the Normandy American Cemetery in France. Sitting above Omaha Beach, this is the cemetery you see in the opening and closing scenes of Saving Private Ryan. While we were there, we placed Colorado flags on the gravesides of the 88 Colorado Veterans. As we walked past so many neatly rowed marble headstones you couldn't help but wonder about the men, and women, who were buried there. Does anyone remember their names? Do the generations that have come since, know of their heroic deeds? Are they remembered at all? What a shame if their heroic actions had been forgotten.

That's why much has been written, and said about Veterans lately, I believe. Because it's been so long since America has relied on them, we've forgotten what they did. Baby boomers intent on learning their own past as they age, are discovering heroes in their own families and are realizing there are stories to hear before it's too late. No longer are these just stuffy old war stories that your grandfather shares with his old friends, they are stories of how a generation was shaped and in some measure tell you how you became what you are today.

If you haven't done so already, the next time you're with your grandparents and great grandparents, start a conversation about their lives. You might be amazed to learn that those loving old people actually saved the world—and that's better than anything you'll see in a movie, because it's part of your story!

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updated: 6/28/2013