Monday, June 6, 2016

Turning Points


Today we observe the 72nd anniversary of D-Day, the first day of the Normandy Invasion that marked a key turning point in the war in Europe.

It was the largest amphibious assault in human history, and even seven decades later it is difficult for the mind to comprehend just what took place.

On June 6, 1984 President Ronald Reagan gave one of the best speeches of his presidency, at Pointe du Hoc, honoring the U.S. Army Ranger Assault Group...

I know, old friend, I know...

At the Movies

Original 1962 "one sheet" poster
Everyone has their favorite movies about World War II, and mine will not come as
a surprise to fans of the genre: Patton and The Thin Red Line.

With regard to the Normandy invasion itself, I'm not sure anything will ever top the opening of Saving Private Ryan for capturing the sheer horror of the assault.

That said, I've always been a big fan of  
The Longest Day, the 1962 epic that is one of the greatest films ever made in black-and-white (it won the Academy Award for Cinematography). Based on Cornelius Ryan's non-fiction best-seller of the same name (Ryan himself helped write the screenplay as well), it is a gripping story, well-told.

Literary Landmark

Dust jacket of original 1949 1st Edition

On June 6, 1949, five years to the day after the Normandy invasion, George Orwell's dystopian novel  Nineteen Eighty-Four was published.

Just as with the Normandy invasion, it is difficult to express in mere words the significance of this event. It isn't many novels, of course, that give rise to an adjective ("Orwellian"), or add so many new words and phrases to the language.

When I first read the book in high school, it was just sort of assumed that the nightmarish world Orwell depicted could never actually come to pass. Americans would never submit to such tyranny, so the conventional wisdom said.

But now, in a period of our history where we are considering prosecuting people for having "wrong" opinions, and abandoning our commitment to academic freedom in our institutions of higher learning, we can no longer dismiss Orwell's novel as something that "could never happen here."

Short Memories

From the incisive pen of Michael Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

Although the term was coined less than 20 years after the Normandy invasion, no one was particularly offended by the so-called British Invasion of the early 1960s. Although the music was not universally embraced right away in the United States, it was understood that the freedom men fought and died for during World War II meant such cultural developments were to be at least tolerated.

Led by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, the music coming out of England in those days was more than merely tolerated. Those groups spearheaded an almost complete takeover of the American singles and album charts by British acts.

The Stones were rather less successful on the charts than The Beatles. By the spring of 1965, as I was beginning to pay more attention to Top 40 radio as my 7th grade year loomed ahead of me, the Stones had only had two Billboard Top 10 singles. Just as summer vacation was getting under way that year, though, that changed dramatically.

On June 6, 1965 the band released
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" in the U.S. market. Propelled by what is arguably the single most famous guitar riff in rock and roll history, the song quickly reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, holding the top sport for four weeks.

It was the first of eight Billboard No. 1 hits for the band, and launched them into the American rock and roll consciousness. Rolling Stone magazine currently ranks the song as No. 2 on its list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Today's send-off is the band's official "lyric" video of their iconic hit. Enjoy...

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