When I was in fifth grade, my favorite library book to borrow was about the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division.
Long before I came across Band of Brothers, words like OVERLORD and MARKET GARDEN and the Bulge were part of my vocabulary.
At age 10, the soldiers who landed behind German lines by glider and parachute seemed impossibly mature, and General Eisenhower — “Ike” — seemed larger than life.
Today, I think about how all of those soldiers were younger than me, and I marvel at how those kids could throw their unprotected bodies out of airplanes and into uncertain but certainly terrifying fate. I think of the German kids who did their best to kill the English-speaking ones who came from the air and the sea. And I think of Eisenhower ordering all those ships and planes and kids into action.
Three-quarters of a century later, you can’t say we’ve forgotten. But I fear we’ve made all those kids into a myth — which might be worse than not remembering at all.