business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Twenty-four years apart, this day represents both one of the greatest and worst events in the history of our country, highlighting how we are capable of both miraculous and awful things.

On this date in 1944, Allied forces - led by the United States military and comprised of troops from Canada, the UK and other countries - began the invasion of France on the beaches of Normandy.

As History.com explains, "France at the time was occupied by the armies of Nazi Germany, and the amphibious assault - codenamed Operation Overlord - landed some 156,000 Allied soldiers on the beaches of Normandy by the end of the day. Despite their success, some 4,000 Allied troops were killed by German soldiers defending the beaches. At the time, the D-Day invasion was the largest naval, air and land operation in history, and within a few days about 326,000 troops, more than 50,000 vehicles and some 100,000 tons of equipment had landed. By August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and in spring of 1945 the Allies had defeated the Germans. Historians often refer to D-Day as the beginning of the end of World War II."

(By the way, if you've never been to Normandy and you get the opportunity, take it, because I can promise you that a visit will be one of the most profound events in your life.)


And then, on June 6, 1968, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in an insurgent effort to defeat incumbent President Lyndon Baines Johnson, died after being shot by Sirhan Sirhan a day earlier at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California primary.

Writer Pete Hamill, who was there when RFK was shot, wrote later about the assassination, that "in this slimy little indoor alley in the back of a gaudy ballroom, in this shabby reality behind the glittering facade, Americans were doing what they do best: killing and dying, and cursing because hope doesn’t last very long among us … I saw Kennedy lurch against the ice machine, and then sag, and then fall forward slowly, to be grabbed by someone, and I knew then that he was dead … Kennedy’s face had a kind of sweet acceptance to it, the eyes understanding that it had come to him, the way it had come to so many others before him. The price of the attempt at excellence was death. You saw a flicker of that understanding on his face, as his life seeped out of a hole in the back of his skull, to spread like spilled wine across the scummy concrete floor."

I know this Eye-Opener has nothing to do with business, but it has everything to do with life and possibilities and hope and the sometimes cold, hard breath of reality.  And history - because in the moment, when we think that the sun and the moon both revolve around current events and the 24-hour news cycle, it is important to put things in context.  And, remember the events in Normandy on this day in 1944, and in Los Angeles in 1968.