This year, we've been reminded all over again of the extraordinary feat that was D day. The images from the 75th anniversary commemorations were extremely powerful. I don't think I'll forget the sight of the nonagenarian parachutists re-enacting their landings. I imagine that this will be the last time any veterans will make the journey.
I was in Normandy for the 70th anniversary, when by chance we travelled out to France accompanied by a number of veterans. They marched onto the boat in formation, and we were accompanied out of Portsmouth by a naval escort, in honour of the men. Also on the boat were any number of jeeps and motorbikes dating back to the 1940s. The mood was a combination of a festival and something rather more solemn.
Above is a picture of Omaha Beach. Some years ago, we took my son and some friends there while we were on holiday. They were nervous of playing on the beach. They were concerned it was disrespectful, somehow.
My own view is that not playing on those beaches would be sadder far. Let’s never forget the sacrifices those soldiers made, but let’s also celebrate the freedom we enjoy as a result.